NEWTOWN >> So what would inspire someone to cycle more than 200 miles between Denver, Colorado and Kansas City, Missouri?
For Todd Franklin of Wrightstown, the answer is simple and very heartfelt - the memory of his loved ones and the hope that his efforts, in some small way, makes a difference.
In September, Franklin will be honoring the memory of his father, brother, late wife, and extended family members who have passed away from cancer by cycling in the Bristol Myers Squibb Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer, a cross-country bike ride to raise money for cancer research.
Franklin’s father, James, passed away from lung cancer, his brother, Scott, died from pancreatic cancer after beating three other forms of cancer, and his late wife, Anne (mother of their two children), had lung cancer that metastasized. She was the fourth generation in her family to die from the same cancer.
He’ll also be riding for many other family and friends, including his father-in-law. “But selfishly, I’m also riding for my children so they don’t become the fifth straight generation to die from cancer,” said Todd.
Todd, who works at Bristol Myers Squibb in Princeton as associate director for patient access and support services, will join more than 230 fellow employees from across the nation who will set out to ride up to 80 miles per day, over three days, contributing to nearly 3,000 miles on two unique routes from Cannon Beach, Ore. to Long Branch, N.J.
Todd is training with his wife, Kelly Moehr, who has been with Bristol Myers Squibb since 2015 and previously rode in honor of her family members who had cancer as well as Todd’s late wife. Kelly will ride the segment from Salt Lake City to Denver, where she will pass the baton - and water bottle - to Todd who will ride the segment from Denver to Kansas City, coming down from the mountains and across the Great Plains.
“There will be some mountains, but not like the segment before me,” said Todd. “But there also will be some flat areas too, which tend to get a lot of head winds and cross winds, which would make you rather ride up a mountain as opposed to into the wind.”
Each rider commits to a 200 to 250 mile segment of the route and will cycle about 80 miles a day for three days.
Collectively between Todd and his wife they will be logging about 500 miles over the course of the event.
“A lot of training goes into it,” said Todd. “We’ve been doing a lot of riding around Bucks County to get ready. Sometimes it’s early morning. Sometimes it’s evenings. A lot of our weekends are taken up by training. Over the last few days we’ve done close to 150 miles just in a three day, back to back training just to build up to our 80 miles per day. We go out and ride around the back streets. We do as many hills as possible to build up our endurance.”
Because they live in Wrightstown, they spend much of their time cycling in and around the Newtown area. Another favorite spot is along the Route 202 Bypass, a 17 mile round trip. “Just the other week we did that three times to make sure we got enough miles in for training.”
Sometimes their rides also take them across the Delaware River into New Jersey.
“There was one training day that I was hurting, but I thought of my family and what they struggled through. I can cope with the pain to help raise money and awareness,” says Todd. “I am riding in honor of the family members who have lost the battle to cancer. But, I am also riding for my kids so they don’t become another generation to suffer.
“This is more than a ride,” said Todd. “It’s to raise awareness and to raise money for cancer research, but it’s also hopefully to create more memories for people in the future so they don’t have to go through cancer treatments. We can find a cure and create more memories,” he said. “That’s our tagline for this event - ‘Our Miles Make Memories.’”
Since 2014, more than 530 Bristol Myers Squibb employees have raised more than $7.15 million for cancer research through the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer ride. The epic cycling event will once again raise funds for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, a charitable organization dedicated to achieving Victory Over Cancer through research.
“Our collective goal is to raise a million dollars for cancer research. If we can do that, maybe that means we can find a cure for cancer and we can save some lives. That’s why we are ultimately doing this,” said Todd. “We are riding for the patients, both patients in the past that have lost their lives as well as current patients who are battling the disease.”
The C2C4C ride involves more than 230 Bristol Myers Squibb employees who have committed themselves to five months of extensive training to raise $1 million for cancer research in support of the V Foundation. Some of the riders have been diagnosed with cancer, while others are riding in honor of loved ones affected by the disease. Eighteen teams are participating in this year’s ride.
Since last year’s events were postponed due to COVID-19, the 2020 and 2021 teams will ride concurrently this fall, one on a Northern route and one on a Southern route, all meeting at the Jersey shore. The goal of Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer each year is to raise $1 million for the V Foundation for Cancer Research to support groundbreaking research that aims to make a profound difference for patients and their families. Money raised will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Bristol Myers Squibb (up to a $500,000 maximum donation).
Each rider has a personal goal of raising $5,000 toward the $1 million fundraising goal of the event.
The C2C4C ride begins September 8 and concludes October 1. Since 2014, more than 530 Bristol Myers Squibb employees have raised more than $7.15 million for cancer research through the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer ride.
“It means the world to me that I’m working for a company so dedicated to the oncology field and is actually working to develop a cure in some way, shape or form and is working with other organizations, like the V Foundation, to do that,” said Todd. “The wonderful thing about the V Foundation is that 100 percent of the donations goes into research. It doesn’t go to administration fees or things like that. Every dollar that we raise will go to cancer research.”
For information about the ride, visit cancerbikeride.org. To donate under Todd’s name and help him reach his goal of $5,000, on the homepage go to the tab that says search for a rider, type in the name “Todd Franklin” and make a donation on his page.