“Believe in yourself and make the best of your situation, no matter how difficult it is,
and surround yourself with positive, loving people.”
When I did my first LIVESTRONG event in 2010, my cousin Bijan had been undergoing treatment for Glioma for approximately 18 months. I had participated in many mountain bike races, but only one road riding event. My wife and I decided to challenge ourselves with a 65-mile ride at the 2010 LIVESTRONG Challenge Austin. Neither of us had ridden that far before, and I really didn’t know what to expect. We knew we could ride that distance, but were unsure how we would feel at the end. It was a great event and by the end of the ride, we were both tired and happy. We had accomplished our goal.
All of the minor aches and pains along the way are really insignificant when you think of your family member struggling with surgeries and difficult treatment sessions. With the successful completion of the 2010 event, I was ready to participate in LIVESTRONG events whenever possible. Fundraising and participating in these events really made me more aware of cancer and how many people it affects. Many of my supporters shared their stories of family members or friends and in turn, I shared my stories, too. My cousin was struggling 1000 miles away in Denver, but training and participating kept him in my thoughts all the time.
Unfortunately, Bijan lost his battle with Glioma in December 2010. Seeing how my cousin and his immediate family were affected by his cancer really changed me forever. In two short years a wonderful man who I considered a great friend was gone. I always thought that cancer happened to people because of some family history, or participating in some activity “known to cause cancer”, but Bijan didn’t do any of these things. To me, that meant cancer could and probably would affect me many more times in my life. That is why I decided to continue participating in LIVESTRONG events.
In 2011, I participated in the Mellow Johnny’s Spring Classic Mountain Bike Race as a LIVESTRONG Rider. This event was different than the Challenge events because there are many participants that are not fundraising mixed together with the LIVESTRONG participants. LIVESTRONG had a tent at this event, and they provided participant support before and after the race. One of the cool things about this event is that it was held on Lance Armstrong’s ranch near Dripping Springs, TX. And so when the 2011 Austin LIVESTRONG Challenge came around, my wife and I were ready to up the ante. We signed up for the 90 mile ride and I set my highest fundraising goal yet. With the help of my generous support network, I was able to raise over $1500 for the Challenge Ride. Katie and I breezed through the 90 miles, and we felt great at the end.
For 2012, I am already setting my goals high. I would like to participate in four events this year and I would like to raise $10K for LIVESTRONG. I am trying to recruit friends and family to participate with me this year. So far, I have recruited Bijan’s son Ali to ride with me at the LIVESTRONG Challenge Davis. This will be my first time to do any significant traveling to participate in an event. My expectations are high. What could be better than spending a day making memories with Ali and remembering all of the great times with his dad.
Tom Hallberg lives in our hometown of Austin, TX. Several of his family members have had cancer, and as a result he’s chosen to participate in the Team LIVESTRONG Challenge Austin Ride, as well as the Mellow Johnny’s Spring Classic mountain bike race. But what does LIVESTRONG really mean to Tom? “For me, it means getting the most out each day. My cousin Bijan’s recent battle with Glioma really put things in perspective. You only get one life to live. You must live in the present. I think of him on a daily basis. When things are difficult or not going my way, I realize that I am here and he is not. I have a great family and a wonderful life. I make the best of it every day. “
You can learn more about how you can join thousands of other amazing people like Katie and Tom at TeamLIVESTRONG.org.