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Bike ride across country benefits Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published: September 18, 2016 12:00 AM
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Hudson -- A resident will bike ride across the United States to help raise $300,000 to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

John Bourassa has been riding for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training every year since 2010.

"I have served as both a fundraising participant in century rides (100 miles) as well as a cycling coach volunteer to help others train to complete their first century ride," Bourassa said. "I've done this every year as a member of my corporate team, Team Novartis, and to help out the Northern Ohio Leukemia & Lymphoma Society whose Board of Trustees I recently served on."

Bourassa is also a member of the Hudson Velo Club. Recently he rode the two-day Velosano Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center Ride fundraiser.

For the LLS fundraiser, 10 bicyclists from Northeast Ohio will start the trip in San Diego, California, on Sept. 25 and ride their bicycles in a relay for 10 days to St. Augustine, Florida, for a total of 3,054 miles. Each rider in the relay will ride about 80 to 100 miles each day.

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The 10 riders are divided into four teams each day of the ride, Bourassa said. The first team starts at the hotel site and the other three teams are driven to intervals about 80 miles apart to complete their section of the ride. No one rides at night for safety reasons.

Bourassa said he rides his bike to enjoy nature and likes being out on the road.

"The first four days will be the most difficult because there's a lot of mountain crossings," he said. "There's a lot of climbing."

Bourassa doesn't have a favorite section.

"I'm looking forward to it all," Bourassa said. "We go across mountain, desert, bayou and forested areas."

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He said the desert is tough for people from Ohio, but the unusually hot summer in the area has helped them train for the heat.

Although riders talk to each other and can enjoy the scenery, they have to stay alert for hazards in the road and drivers who may not notice them.

Bourassa said he burns 7,500 calories in 100 miles.

"I have a heavy breakfast," he said.

Riders carry rice cakes or energy bars in their pockets, and support cars provide water, food and electrolyte pills so riders don't cramp up.

"Together, the 10 of us have participated in over 100 Team In Training events raising in excess of over $1 million since 1999," Bourassa said. "Team In Training (TNT) is the flagship fundraising program for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the only endurance sports training program for charity that raises money for blood cancer research."

The TNT coaches help train bicyclists to cross the finish line at a marathon, half marathon, cycling event, triathlon or hike adventure.

"This ride is of course our longest and most challenging ever but our real goal is the same as it has always been during each and everyone of the events we have participated in and it is to beat cancer, and we need your help and support," Bourassa said. "Our team includes a blood cancer survivor and each one of us has a personal connection with a friend or family member who is still fighting or has lost a battle with blood cancer."

Bourassa is a pharmacist and his company makes a lot of treatments for leukemia, he said. Researchers can have a great idea for treatment or a cure, but they need funding.

"This is a way to put my money where my mouth is," Bourassa said. "It's a way to give back and help researchers."

To donate or for more information on the event, go to http://events.lls.org/pages/noh/baamcycle2016/jbourassa.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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