Cole Frye, 13, of Terrell and the late Brett Gosnell of Hickory have something in common: They both suffered from pediatric cancer. Gosnell died in 2006, but Frye beat the disease with extensive radiation and chemotherapy.
The struggles both young men faced after being diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, commonly called Rhabdo, will be recognized Oct. 6, when hundreds of cyclists gather in Hickory to raise money for the Carolina Cycle Challenge. The event is a continuation of the well-known Brett’s Ride, which raised more than $1 million to fight pediatric cancer since it was started by Gosnell’s family and friends in 2004. Brett’s Ride honored the struggles and the memory of Gosnell, who died at age 20.
After the organizers of Brett’s Ride announced that 2012 would be the last Brett’s Ride, five area Rotary Clubs united to continue the event, along with the city of Hickory, the Hickory Foundation YMCA and the Hickory Velo Club. The five Rotary Clubs are Rotary Club of Catawba Valley, Rotary Club of Hickory, Rotary Club of Lake Hickory, Rotary Club of Newton-Conover and Sunrise Rotary Club.
This year’s ride has a new name, Carolina Cycle Challenge, but the same goal: to raise funds for pediatric cancer research and to promote awareness of the disease.
Cole, the son of Tanya and Dennis Frye, will be the No. 1 rider in the Carolina Cycle Challenge. The title is given to a rider who has or is recovered from pediatric cancer. Cole and his family learned last October that he had the deadly cancer. He had a tumor a little larger than a golf ball under his eye. In the next couple months, Cole underwent 28 radiation and 30 chemotherapy treatments at Levine children’s Hospital in Charlotte . In early August, he had a series of scans that came back clear.
“This No. 1 rider represents bravery and hope,” said Mandy Pitts, city of Hickory communications director/brand manager. “This ride also reminds us of what we can do as people and organizations in our caring community to fight pediatric cancer by raising money to find cures.”
After staying home and studying as a home-bound student last year, Cole is an eighth-grader at Mill Creek Middle School in Claremont, where he plans to play basketball and run cross country, according to his father, Dennis Frye. Cole will ride a new bike in the ride that was given to him by Lightning Cycles of Conover.
“Cole thought that being in the ride would be pretty cool,” said Dennis Frye. “All along, while he was sick, he said he would like to be able to raise money to help other kids. There were a lot of kids in that hospital who were worse off than him. He was so tender-hearted that he felt bad for them.”
Ride organizers hope to raise $75,000 for the Carolina’s Healthcare Foundation of Charlotte, according to Bill Shillito, past district governor of the Western North Carolina District of Rotary International. The Levine Foundation has offered to match funds raised up to $63,000.
“The ride has a new name, but the same spirit (as Brett’s Ride),” said Shillito. “We honor Brett and the Gosnell family and what they have done with the ride.”
Brett’s Ride attracted 1,400 riders last year, according to Shillito. The format for this year’s ride is similar to Brett’s Ride except there will not be a 52-mile ride. There will be a 10-mile ride and a 32-mile ride as well as a tot ride for children. The 10- and 32-mile rides will begin and end at the Hickory Foundation YMCA. For the tot ride, which will be held on the YMCA running track, children must wear helmets and can ride bikes with training wheels, scooters and strollers. There also will be a kids’ zone with children’s activities.
“This will be a very family-friendly event,” said Shillito. “We are encouraging entire families and children to ride. It is being held on Sunday morning because that is a safer time to ride. ”
The ride raises money through sponsorships and donations. The registration fee for riders is $25 for the 10- and 32-mile rides and $10 for the tot ride. The rotary clubs are seeking sponsors. There are three levels of sponsorships ranging up to $5,000. Personal donations also are being solicited.
Prior to his death, Brett Gosnell wrote a challenge which sums up the spirit of the ride: “Put helping, caring about, and serving others at the center of all that you do – not just today or tomorrow but for the remainder of your life.”
Charlene H. Carpenter is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Charlene? Email her at email@example.com.
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