LOUISVILLE,KY. (WHAS 11)--Norton’s Bike to Beat Cancer is getting ready to take off on Saturday, September 17.
Funds raised during the event will support advanced cancer training for nurses and programs for cancer survivors. More than raising money though, for many riders the event is also about their loved ones.
“I really couldn’t run anymore, so somebody had recommended I start riding,” explained Mark Thompson. It’s something most of us can relate to, trying to stay healthy. And that’s what biking was about for him, until he met a girl.
“She ended up being my wife Laura and she was big into raising money for cancer awareness and she was the one who said, hey, why don’t we put a team together.” Thompson says they put together “Team Pink Warriors,” and they started training, getting ready for the big day.
“Before the very first Bike to Beat Cancer ride, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and they wouldn’t let her ride.”
It upset Laura, but she didn't let it stop her, she was determined to ride it the next year.
“By that time, we found out she was terminal,” explained Thompson. “It had spread. It had come back more aggressively.”
Laura's ride was coming to an end. She would never get to ride the route, but she also wouldn't it beat her.
“She actually went out with her bike and every time one of the team members went across the finish line, she would meet them a half mile out and ride in to pass the finish line with every one of our team members.”
And then her ride was over, Laura died in December of 2015, and Mark stopped riding.
“Knowing I didn’t have her to ride with me any more really, was really upsetting,” said the widower.
If Laura was here she might have told Mark, “this is just a hill get over it,” but without her, he couldn't get back on the bike.
“Seeing him not want to do that made me upset,” explained Laura’s daughter, Lauryn Barr. “Because I’m like ‘that’s not him. What’s going on?’ So it made me want to push him to get back into it.”
Barr isn’t a biker, but she knew her mom wouldn’t want them to stop. She pushed Mark to get back on the bike, and together they’re training for the ride.
“I’ve been seeing him happy like back when my mom and him first met. It’s good to see that smile again, and to know that he’s doing something that he loves,” said Barr.
On Saturday Laura can’t ride, but her memory, her determination, and her fighting spirit can, carried on by the two people she loved most.
The race doesn't start until Sept.17, but there is a kickoff event Sept.16.
The celebration of courage is a free community event with food, rides and live music. It gives everyone touched by cancer a chance to be a part of the event. It runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 4910 Chamberlain Lane. That's at the Brownsboro Kosair Children's Medical Center.