Like countless people worldwide, Cheshire’s Cathy Hathaway has had her life impacted by cancer. To this day, she misses her dad Bob and her aunt Cathy, who both passed away from differentforms of the disease.
Hathaway also often thinks of her friend Kevin, who has been fighting his own battle.
There is currently no cure for cancer, but this year, Hathaway wanted to do her part to hopefully, one day, find a solution.
Recently, Hathaway participated in the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer (C2C4C) program for the first time. Starting at Cannon Beach in Oregon and ending in Long Branch, New Jersey, cyclists ride across the country in nine legs and raise money.
Proceeds benefit the V Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that focuses on funding cancer research. Before passing away from cancer in 1993, former college basketball coach Jim Valvano teamed with ESPN to found the charitable effort.
“I think that cancer research is very important,” stated Hathaway. “My dad passed away too early from colon cancer. He didn’t get to see his grandkids grow up.”
Hathaway rode on the Tour de Cure team from Indianapolis, Indiana, to Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, for the eighth leg of this year’s trek that spanned Sept. 28-30. Since she rides to work in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she got interested in C2C4C.
“I’m not a researcher, but I work with them,” said Hathaway. “I thought that this (fundraiser) is something that I could do.”
To be considered for a riding spot, Hathaway had to submit an application in December of last year. She learned of her acceptance back in February.
“There is a committee that chooses riders,” said Hathaway. “It was an honor to be selected.”
In preparation for the trek, she joined her team members for two clinics in New Jersey. Other riders came from places like Maine, Kentucky, Texas, Idaho, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico.
“We learned about safety and riding in paceline,” recalled Hathaway, who also had monthly meetings with her team. “We practiced rolling over things like stuffed animals.”
Along with team activities, Hathaway also rode on her own for five months.
“I trained pretty much every day,” stated Hathaway. “Each month, we had to do an increasing amount of mileage. I think that 50 to 70 miles was the last amount.”
She balanced her training with fundraising. Starting in May, she set a goal of hitting $5,000, but as of press time, she has already raised $11,495 for the V Foundation.
“As I got money, I put the names (of donors) on the back of my shirt. I wanted to make sure that people knew that I was with them,” explained Hathaway. “Every one was so generous.”
When the fundraising window closes, Hathaway said that the V Foundation will match her total.
“It (the program) isn’t about working on a certain cancer or drug,” stated Hathaway. “It is all about research.”
After finishing up planning for her trip, Hathaway flew to Indianapolis. On Sept. 27, she got to see riders from the previous leg finish their trek at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“We got to congratulate them for their leg and then started up our ride the next day,” stated Hathaway.
Her team kicked off by riding 74 miles, from Indianapolis to Dayton, Ohio. For the first two states of the trip, Hathaway described the terrain as flat.
“We rode by a lot of fields of corn and soybeans. We also saw one field of sunflowers,” recalled Hathaway.
Throughout the journey, the group made sure to ride in unison.
“Once we were clipped in, we had to immediately work on communicating. We had to use our voices instead of hand signals,” said Hathaway. “For this (trip), you ride within a foot of the tire in front of you.”
For the safety of the riders, an emergency medical technician (EMT) rode in a van behind the team.
“In the farm country of Ohio, there were a lot of big trucks,” stated Hathaway. “It was good to have protection.”
An accident still occurred when a rider fell on the road. The woman cracked her helmet, but after being checked out by the EMT, she was given approval to keep riding.
“She is tough,” said Hathaway. “After all the training, there is no reason why you want to stop riding.”
Due to increased elevation, she thought that the final stretch was the toughest part of the trip. On the last day, Hathaway rode from Zanesville, Ohio, to Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
“There were rough hills in West Virginia,” reflected Hathaway. “I don’t think that I trained on enough hills. That is the only thing that I wish I had done more of.”
Her family inspired her to finish up. At the top of the last hill, she saw her son waiting to celebrate.
“On the final stretch, my son Michael had signs that said, ‘Mom, can I borrow 10 bucks?’ and ‘Mom, what’s for dinner?,’” recalled Hathaway. “The coach said that we couldn’t stop until the end, so I had tears in my eyes for 10 miles.”
She wasn’t expecting her son to fly in from San Francisco.
“He first surprised us on day one of the ride,” said Hathaway. “He found the link (online) to follow us on the way.”
Hathaway was proud to reach the end of her ride and see Team Spinspiration start the last leg. She credited teammates for motivating her throughout the journey.
“We shared why we were riding and it made us much stronger,” explained Hathaway, who got to spend two nights with her team in hotels. “When it got difficult, we thought about who we were riding for.”
Hathaway added that she was motivated by her friend Kevin’s mantra of faith over fear. She doesn’t plan to ride next year, but may participate again in 2024.