Team Dave members Jay Shepherd, Kathy Lester, Dianne Beaton and Jenaye Shepherd will be riding alongside other Team In Training cyclists from across the United States in the America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride cycling event on June 2 around Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The goal behind the cycling event is to raise funds to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) in their mission to explore cutting-edge research projects in cancer research and provides information and support to patients and their families throughout their cancer journey. In their fourth year of participating in the event, Team Dave cyclists honor their friend and colleague Dave Paratore. Paratore previously taught fourth grade in Winters before he was diagnosed with leukemia. In a thank you note on the Team Dave Team in Training page Patore gives credit to LLS research and support. “Because of LLS research, my doctors and support team at UC Davis, and the countless people on whose shoulders I stand I am happy to say I am thriving,” Paratore wrote. “The bone marrow transplant was successful. I have lingering issues with Graft vs Host disease, but they are manageable. My healing is a direct result of the work of LLS.” The crew takes on the annual ride with inspiration from Paratore to help continue to raise funds to support LLS research. “Dave is very much our muse in why we ride. We’ve all had him in our lives,” said Beaton. Lester noted that LLS research benefits all types of cancers, not just blood disease related. Jenaye, who is the LLS Executive Director, said LLS has noticed half the treatments they fund have gone on to help in the treatment of other cancers including brain, colon and breast as well as diseases like arthritis and Multiple sclerosis. “We (LLS) feel really good that we are making a big impact on the whole cancer and disease community,” Jenaye said. “There’s something about the way they do research on blood cancer that makes it more transferable to other cancers.” Beaton said the ride around Lake Tahoe has an option to do a 100 mile ride in one day, at about 6,000 feet elevation. Participants’ experience ranges from beginners doing their first ride to seasoned cyclists. Lester said you see beautiful things and get to ride through areas you otherwise would not experience. The team has been training every weekend since January to help prepare for the ride. Beaton said they’re currently up to riding 77 miles with 4,200 feet of climbing. “I’m so proud of my fellow teammates for being able to stick with it and able to do it,” said Beaton. Outside of the months of training Beaton and Jenaye both shared that inspiration from someone who has received support from LLS helps them to get through the ride. Before the ride at the Team in Training Inspiration Dinner cyclists gather to eat dinner together, learn the total of their fundraising efforts and listen to a personal story of someone who has been touched by blood cancer and how LLS made an impact. “On the ride You can think about them,” Jenaye said. “You get a full circle feeling of what you’re doing and why you’re there.” “You feel very, very lucky that you’re out there riding that morning and you’re not in a hospital room—And you get a sense of why you’re doing it,” said Beaton. “Later in the day when it’s hot and you’re climbing hills you can think back to that inspiration point and think, ‘That’s why I’m doing this.’ It escapes you sometimes.” Jenaye said monies raised by Teams in Training for LLS are invested in three ways:
- Funding different research to see progress in treatments.
- Patient support: financial or co-pay assistance, resources and free information for families while their loved one is going through treatment.
- Advocacy efforts.