A bike ride on a crisp, spring day along the scenic Fox River. They're moments Sam Mehlberg says we should never take for granted. His mom, Lynne, has triple negative breast cancer which has spread to her brain and trachea.
"It's so easy to be so negative when you go through something like this because it is unfair, and it's just a bad draw, but really it's important to make sure that you're keeping those spirits up," he says.
His mother's fighting spirit inspired him to become a board member for the Breast Cancer Family Foundation. Last year, he completed the Titletown Bike Tour's century ride to bring in funds for the non-profit.
"I like to be active, and I think if my mom can go through all the treatments that she's gone through in the past seven years, 100 miles should be a piece of cake."
The family event for all ages draws about a thousand riders. This year, organizers created different routes through northern Brown and southern Oconto counties. Riders will also receive ribbons to tie to their bikes to honor those lost and currently battling the disease.
"This is more than just a bike ride. You're riding for a reason, and you're riding for a cause," said the foundation's executive director, Diane Gaywont.
"What it brings to our foundation, financially, allowing our educators to continue our mission in the classroom just fills my heart," adds Heather Frank, Ride Director for the Titletown Bike Tour.
Through cancer awareness and prevention presentations, the foundation educates more than 10,000 high school students annually.
Gaywont says, "When they tell us, 'I went home and I talked to mom and dad, and they went and got their annual screening that maybe they wouldn't have had done', and we helped prevent that, that's a heartfelt moment for me."
The organization's education series teaches teens about early detection, and the importance of eating healthy foods and exercising to reduce their risk of developing cancer later in life. Frank says the Titletown Bike Tour is one way to get people started. "You are bringing movement into your life. You are leading by example for your children."
Sam hopes his mom will be well enough to cheer him on at the finish line, as they focus on living life as normal as possible. "We don't want to give cancer anymore credit than it has already taken."
Registration is now open for the Titletown Bike Tour. It's being held on Sunday, July 9th. The route begins and ends at United Healthcare in Howard. You can choose from six different course lengths. The shortest is a 15K.