Mid-South cyclist group raising thousands for cancer research

Published: Sep. 12, 2021 at 10:08 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and one group of Mid-South cyclists is hitting the streets to raise money for cancer research.

For Germantown’s Richard Coleman, cycling started out as a leisure activity until he was approached in 2019 to help raise money for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund by riding his bike in the Great Cycle Challenge.

“After that, it just took off,” Coleman said. “The first year I raised $2,500. Last year, I raised about $8,700.”

Since its start in 2015, The Great Cycle Challenge has raised $40 million with more than 40,000 cyclists across the country.

This year, Coleman started a team, the Wheel Warriors, a group of practically strangers in the Memphis area brought together for a common cause.

Sunday was the first time many of the Wheel Warriors met in-person.

Their goal has been upped several times already, now at $17,500, and they are 9th in the nation in fundraising.

“Mileage-wise, we’re trying to do about 2,000 miles as a team,” Coleman said. “We’ve got about 1,100 right now, so we might have to raise that up.”

One of Coleman’s teammates, who was Action News 5′s Mid-South Hero of the Month in November of 2020, Tracy Lowry, has done the challenge since 2017.

“Four years later, here I am,” Lowry said. “I’ve raised over $5,000 this year, going 400 miles.”

Lowry rides for Cameron Fulling, who lost his battle to cancer the first year she rode.

Coleman, a P.E. coach at Farmington Elementary in Germantown, rides for several children in his school who are patients at St. Jude.

St. Jude is one of 20 institutes across the country the dollars from the Great Cycle Challenge goes toward.

“Kids should be riding bicycles,” Coleman said. “They shouldn’t be battling cancer.”

“The goal is really to never have to do this again. Cancer for kids is manicured and we don’t have to ride bikes and they can go outside and play,” said Lowry. “That’s the main goal for us, but I will keep doing it until I cannot ride a bicycle anymore.”

With St. Jude just down the street benefiting from dollars raised by this challenge, Coleman doesn’t see why his team shouldn’t be leading the efforts, nationally, in this fundraiser, with the help of the Mid-South.

Wednesday is Kick Cancer’s Butt Day, and the CCRF’s donors will be matching the total amount of donations that day up to $1.5 million.

Anyone wanting to join or donate to the Great Cycle Challenge or the Wheel Warriors in the Memphis area can do so here.

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