Occupation: Husband, Father, Toolmaker, Boy Scout Leader, Baseball and Softball Umpire
Family: married to Christy Leiter and sons: Michael (would be 26) and Brian, age 22
Biggest physical accomplishment to date: SNKCR 2012, Three Tour for Kids, Three Susan G Komen 3day walks, but these do not compare to finding a path of life after losing my mother when I was 18 to cancer and then 26 years later losing my first born son at the age of 19 to the same dreaded disease.
Dedicated to “Miles for Michael” and finding a cure!
On October 21st of 2004 my life was normal, just one day later a phone call from the doctor changed everything. I was told my oldest son Michael had mass in his abdomen and few days later it was confirmed that he had primary liver cancer. How could this be, he was seventeen, finishing his senior year in high school, had been accepted to college and looking forward to life.
For a little over two years, I watched my son battle cancer, which consisted of chemo, having half his liver and many lymph nodes removed and just months after that being told his cancer was back. Now eighteen, being told there is not much more we can do. After over a year of trial medicines and my son pretending everything was fine, the cancer took its toll. October of 2006, Michael again in the hospital, I sat there as the doctor visited him and he asked” how long do I have to live”. The doctor setback by his question answered this brave young man and said maybe a month or a month and a half. Now at nineteen, my son called his friends to the hospital told them the news. On November 13th of 2006, the cancer won the battle with my son. It shortened his life but it did not change the way he lived it.
In November of 2009, I was told about an event called Tour for Kids. Not being a cyclist, or even owning a bicycle at the time, it took me a few months to decide if I want to take on this challenge. In years, 2010, 2011 and 2012 I participated in the Tour for Kids wanting to do the National Ride in memory of my son. In September of 2012 after months of fundraising, training a support from family and friends, I did that ride but something more happened along the way. What started out as a seventeen day event to remember my son and push myself to the limits in his memory turned into much more? Each morning there was a dedication to a child, who either lost the battle as Michael did or was currently battling this dreaded disease hoping to win the war. During each day, I would make it a point to remember that child and their family. Any pain I was feeling, whether it was climbing a hill or after a long day, could never compare to the pain a child is feeling suffering from this dreaded disease.
This September, I will again take on the challenges of The Sears National Kids Cancer ride. My desire is not because of any mountains that I missed or speeds I did not reach but to help and remember those children, some who lost the battle and others still fighting with everything they have. I will again carry a Matchbox truck of Michael’s on every mile, remembering him on every pedal revolution. I ask if you will strongly consider giving to this great organization trying to win the war with a “Destination Beyond Cancer.”