Eagles-Rafter Bike RideIt all began in 2001. She was a young French teacher he had in the sixth grade and had not seen for more than six years. But when Adrian Eagles heard that Helen Parnas, his former teacher and the 37-year-old mother of two young boys, was losing her battle with malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer, he decided to do something significant in her honor.
Although Eagles was not an experienced bicyclist, he and a classmate, Brad Rafter, came up with the idea of a 1,500 mile bike ride from their home town in Massachusetts all the way to Florida as a means of raising funds for AICR's efforts in cancer research. Going door-to-door, the two 17-year-olds received initial pledges of more than $2,000 in support of their effort.
Eagles and Rafter both had athletic backgrounds, Adrian as a competitive swimmer and Brad as the captain of his high school varsity soccer team. But both boys also realized that what they were undertaking required training and special knowledge. They prepared for their ride with a thorough training program, working up to the 100 mile per day distance that was the target for the planned 15-day ride. They also consulted with local riders, getting help in mapping out a safe route and advice on needed supplies for the trip.
The American Institute for Cancer Research is honored to be the recipient of the funds raised by these hard-working and generous young men. Their efforts, initially a surprise to former teacher Parnas, ended up being an important emotional support for her in her fight against cancer, and gave her hope that more people would become aware of the deadly side of melanoma, a skin cancer usually associated with overexposure to the sun.
Adrian Eagles and Brad Rafter bike to remember Ms. Parnas and support AICR.