In 2003, Peabody resident Tom DesFosses had just retired after 41 years at General Electric and he and his wife Judy were touring around the country in their 36-foot Winnebago. That's when Tom started experiencing some troubling health problems -- slurred speech and behavioral changes.
The couple was traveling in the Southwest, so they visited doctors there, but it wasn't until they returned home and Tom was checked out at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston that an MRI revealed he had a malignant brain tumor.
Tom was diagnosed with primary CNS lymphoma, which is a cancerous brain tumor; however, thanks to Dr. Eric Wong at Beth Israel, he was able to count himself a cancer survivor, and since then Tom has been doing his part to help out others battling cancer.
In 2007, he returned to cycling with a charity ride through New England to raise money for cancer research and then in 2008, started A Reason to Ride to specifically benefit Wong's work at Beth Israel via the Brain Tumor Fund.
“Cancer is one of those diseases that touches everyone’s life, whether you were diagnosed yourself, a family member or close friend. This ride means a lot to me and my family, and not only helps raise money to support research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, but also helps provide care to people and families each year who cope with one of the most horrendous illnesses in the world,” said Tom.
A Reason to Ride raised $20,000 in its first year and has now brought in more than $250,000, all of which goes directly to cancer research at BIDMC.
The annual bike-a-thon starts off in Danvers at the Liberty Tree Mall this Sunday at 8 a.m. The event is also sponsored by Fuddruckers and includes several other activities for the day.
Last year, more than 200 cyclists participated in either the 10-, 25- or 50-mile rides through Danvers, Wenham, Topsfield, Gloucester, Essex and Ipswich.
“We aim to raise $100,000 from the event this year and would like to see more than 300 riders come out,” said Tom.
Last year the event brought in more than $55,000.
In addition to the bike-a-thon, there will be a trike-a-thon for kids, a Fuddruckers cookout, raffles, music and a car show.
Check out fb.com/AReasonToRide to get more information and to register for the ride this year. Registration fees are $25 per child, $50 per adult and $150 per family.