Group of local men head to Scotland for a bike ride that will raise monies for cancer research

A group of eight devoted men, seven from Mason, are headed to Scotland for a 110-mile bike ride – from Glasgow to Edinburgh on Sept. 8 – that will help them to raise monies and awareness in the fight against leukemia and lymphoma. Through their “Team in Training” effort, the group has already raised more than $45,000 of the $50,000 goal.

The team is comprised of Tom Carns, Tom Collins, Marshall Esler, John DeBanto, Vince Hopkins, Gordon Massa, Ken Murawski and Tim Wolf, who have all been impacted by one of the blood cancers.

“We care about each other and what we’ve been through. We’ve come a long way in a few short months,” said Hopkins, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2005.

A relapse earlier this year and recent chemo treatments didn’t stop Hopkins from training, or gearing up for the strenuous ride.

“I’m inspired because I know what we’re doing is going to add $50,000, or more to the cause to fight blood cancers,” Hopkins said. “The ultimate goal is to cure blood cancers.”

As neighbors and long-time friends, the teammates have become extremely close as a result of their personal experiences. One team member is currently battling leukemia. Another rider just finished chemo from a relapse of lymphoma and will ride the entire 110-miles. One has a 10-year-old daughter, who has had two bone marrow transplants as a result of leukemia. One has a 6-year-old who was born with a rare form of leukemia. One has lost a wife to lymphoma, leaving four children behind. One has lost a parent to lymphoma. And, one is riding in honor of a Mason teacher’s young child.

“As a group, all of us were very close before. Understanding how personal beating this particular type of disease is for all of us, in coming together and training together over the last couple of months, the ride itself is really the icing on the cake. It will be very emotional,” Esler said.

He said one common goal that keeps the team united is the idea of “paying it forward.”

“All of us have embraced that concept. Going forward, we’re happy to be in a position to make a difference.”

In the past few months, the team has trained every Saturday morning. They met at Waffle House and their ride began after breakfast. In June, the team rode about 60 miles per day and they have continued to add miles, every week. Hopkins said they reached their goal of completing a 100-mile ride two weeks ago.

All of the monies raised will go directly to LLS. Each member of the team is paying for his own trip to Scotland and the related expenses. The team will leave for the trip on Sept. 5 and will spend a week together overseas. Typically, a ride of this distance takes 10 to 12 hours to complete.

The $50,000 goal will allow the riders to name a research grant in honor of someone. Hopkins said the team hasn’t officially talked about the name. To donate, or to find out more about the team, visit