• Tue April 21 2009
  • Posted Apr 21, 2009
Des Moines,IA By MICHOLYN FAJEN A West Des Moines father-son team will tackle their ninth RAGBRAI tour together July 19-25. donning yellow jerseys to support the Livestrong Foundation and honor survivors, fighters and victims of cancer. As soon as Nic Cory was old enough to stay put on a tandem bike, he hit the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa with his father, Joe. The two pedaled in concert with one another from town to town, enjoying the quiet of each other's company. "It's always been a special opportunity to get me away from the office and Nic away from sports to be more isolated and spend time together," said dad, Joe, of his son, now 13 years old. Two years ago Nic rode in tandem with Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong during a leg of RAGBRAI. This year Nic will ride to support Armstrong's mission. Nic's personal Livestrong Web site has already primed the donation pump, hitting nearly $1,000 in donations. While Armstrong won't make a RAGBRAI appearance this year, he'll have his Iowa team in mind. He is slated to ride the Tour de France simultaneously and will wear the same Livestrong jersey as the Livestrong RAGBRAI team. Armstrong founded the Livestrong organization after surviving cancer. "At night when we watch the big screen at the campsite it will be special to review his progress on the tour as we make our way across the state as his Livestrong ambassadors," Joe said. The Livestrong RAGBRAI team will draw nearly 100 riders to support the cause, celebrate with survivors and honor others. As the pack of yellow riders moves through the route they encourage donations to the Livestrong Foundation. Team Livestrong on RAGBRAI has raised $670,000 in total over the last two years of the event. To date the team has raised $27,000 in pre-event donations. Nic is the youngest member of the team, adopted by older teammates who challenge him to pace with them during legs of the route. "I love to bike and eat all the great food along the way, like pancakes and pork chops," said Nic, who admits he's looking forward to the meals churches serve along the route. "My dad and I will do a few 30-mile rides before RAGBRAI to train." West Des Moines rider Andrew Gross is not only a cyclist, he's a career advisor at Lincoln High School. His connections to cancer run too close to home. In his family of 14, three of his siblings have fought and survived cancer. Fifteen years ago his best friend battled and won his fight with testicular cancer. "He was only five years younger than me and it hit me hard that he could have this," Gross said. But last August, Gross said, one his students approached him and shared that he, a 16-year-old boy, had testicular cancer. "I was shocked that it could hit someone so young," Gross said. The student has completed treatment and now often visits Gross to discuss the life-altering effects of the disease. "We talk about life, death, God. Having to deal with cancer on that level makes me want to fight all the more and to do what I can to make a difference," said Gross, who considers the ride and Livestrong ambassadorship an honor. "Cancer survivors are our heroes today," Gross said. "They bring out the best in us and help us be part of something bigger than ourselves."

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