Interstate bike ride honors cancer patients

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Some of Houston's finest will be testing their skills and endurance to help people fighting cancer. They'll be participating in a bicycle relay from here all the way to Washington State. And, it takes a lot of work to prepare.

Last-minute checks at Discovery Green are being performed on bikes that will be peddled thousands of miles across the country.

For the 33rd straight year, the Houston Police Bicycle Relay Team will pedal 2,900 miles from Houston to Tacoma, Washington;
it benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The 34-member team is made up of the Houston Police Department, leukemia survivors and family members of survivors or victims.

As Richard Duffy checks his tire pressure, his blue dog tags are jingling, and that's the point, as each is stamped with the name of a patient battling leukemia.

"It's their heartbeat. Sometimes you ride in the wind and all the bumps as you ride, they jingle around; that's the patients' heartbeat and that's your motivation ," Duffy said.

Duffy will turn 14 during the middle of the seven-day ride.

"And he's also riding in honor of a soon-to-be Eagle Scout that is battling leukemia right now, so one Boy Scout taking care of another Boy Scout," rider Steve Duffy said.

Some of the cancer patients on the dog tags were on hand to wish their riders well.

"I just want to say thank you for everything that everybody's done for me, especially my family HPD," one cancer patient said.

You may have also notice riders sporting bow ties. It's in honor of a cancer doctor at MD Anderson. Dr. Charles Koller was also a rider with HPD but passed away this year.

"He succumbed to cancer and part of our way to let Dr. Koller know that we still think about him, is his patients know Dr. Koller by the bow tie. He always had a bow tie when we walked into a room," one participant said.

So as they set out to cross several states with dogs tags jingling, each rider will be thinking of someone they want to get better or someone they've already lost.

"It means a lot to me. I've lost several members to cancer on my side of the family, on my mother's side. And as long as I'm able and strong, I want to do something for this cause," another participant said.

In the past 32 years, HPD officers have racked up 73,000 miles and raised more than $5.4. million to help improve the quality of life for those battling blood related cancers.
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