So what would inspire someone to cycle more than 200 miles between Denver, Colorado and Kansas City, Missouri?
For Todd Franklin of Wrightstown, a native of Warren County, the answer is simple and heartfelt: the memory of his loved ones and the hope that his efforts, in one way or another, will make a difference.
In September, Franklin will honor the memory of his father, brother, late wife and extended relatives who have died of cancer by cycling the Bristol Myers Squibb Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer, a cross-country bike ride to raise money for cancer research.
Franklin’s father, James, died of lung cancer, his brother, Scott, died of pancreatic cancer after beating three other cancers, and his late wife, Anne (mother of their two children), had lung cancer that had spread. She was the fourth generation in her family to die of the same cancer.
He will also ride for many other family and friends, including his father-in-law. “But selfishly, I also ride for my kids so they don’t become the fifth generation in a row to die of cancer,” Todd said.
Todd, who works at Bristol Myers Squibb in Princeton as an associate director for patient access and support services, will join more than 230 colleagues from across the country who will drive up to 80 miles a day for three days to contribute to nearly 3,000 miles on two unique trails from Cannon Beach, Oregon to Long Branch, NJ
Todd trains with his wife, Kelly Moehr, who has been with Bristol Myers Squibb since 2015 and previously raced in honor of her relatives who had cancer, as well as Todd’s late wife. Kelly will drive the segment from Salt Lake City to Denver, where she will pass the baton—and water bottle—to Todd, who will drive the segment from Denver to Kansas City, out of the mountains and across the Great Plains.
“There will be some mountains, but not like the segment for me,” Todd said. “But there will also be some flat areas, which tend to get a lot of headwinds and crosswinds, making you prefer to ride up a mountain rather than into the wind.”
Each rider commits to a 200 to 250 mile section of the route and will cycle approximately 80 miles per day for three days.
Collectively, Todd and his wife will log approximately 500 miles over the course of the event.
“It takes a lot of training,” Todd said. “We’ve done a lot of driving around Bucks County getting ready. Sometimes it is early in the morning. Sometimes it is evening. Many of our weekends are taken up with training. In the past few days, we’ve covered nearly 150 miles in just three days, back to back training to build up to our 80 miles a day. We go out and drive through the back streets. We do as many hills as possible to build up our stamina.”
Because they live in Wrightstown, they spend much of their time cycling in and around Newtown. Another favorite spot is along the Route 202 Bypass, a 17-mile round trip. “Last week we did that three times to make sure we could get enough miles for practice.”
Sometimes their rides also take them across the Delaware River to New Jersey.
“There was a training day when I was in pain, but I thought about my family and what they were struggling through. I can handle the pain of raising money and awareness,” says Todd. “I ride in honor of the family members who have lost the battle against cancer. But I also ride for my children so they don’t become the next generation to suffer.
“This is more than a ride,” Todd said. “It’s to raise awareness and 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 undergo cancer treatments. We can find a cure and create more memories,” he said. “That’s our slogan 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 money for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, a charitable organization dedicated to achieving Victory Over Cancer through research.
“Our common goal is to raise a million dollars for cancer research. If we can do that, maybe it means we can find a cure for cancer and save some lives. That’s why we’re doing this in the end,” Todd said. “We drive for the patients, both past patients who have lost their lives and current patients battling the disease.”
The C2C4C ride involves more than 230 Bristol Myers Squibb employees who have committed to five months of extensive training to raise $1 million for cancer research in support of the V Foundation. Some riders have been diagnosed with cancer, while others ride in honor of loved ones affected by the disease. Eighteen teams are taking part in this year’s ride.
As last year’s events were postponed due to COVID-19, the 2020 and 2021 teams will run concurrently this fall, one on a northern route and one on a southern route, all meeting on the Jersey coast. The goal of Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer is to raise $1 million each year for the V Foundation for Cancer Research to support groundbreaking research that aims to make a big difference to patients and their families. The money raised will be doubled by Bristol Myers Squibb (up to a maximum donation of $500,000).
Each rider has a personal goal of raising $5,000 toward the event’s $1 million fundraising goal.
The C2C4C ride starts on September 8 and ends on 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 work for a company that is so committed to the oncology field and actually work to develop a cure one way or another, shape or form and collaborate with other organizations, such as the V Foundation, to do that,” said Todd. “The great thing about Foundation V is that 100 percent of the donations go to research. It’s not about administrative fees or anything like that. Every dollar we raise goes to cancer research.”
For ride information, visit cancerbikeride.org. To donate under Todd’s name and help him reach his $5,000 goal, on the home page, go to the tab that says “search for a rider,” type the name “Todd Franklin” and do a donation on his page.
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on BucksLocalNews.com.
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