Kim Morris, 2015 TdP Rider

As a two time cancer survivor, I had walked the 3 Day for the Cure twice, but was looking for something different to do in support of breast cancer. I had read about the Tour de Pink, but was really intimidated because I hadn’t ridden a bike in years, and had never trained for any bike races in my life! I also only owned an old mountain bike, and knew nothing about road bikes at all. That combined with the cost of purchasing a bike, helmet, shoes and other equipment was a little overwhelming to me. But then I heard that LIV had a donation program for survivors, and I decided that if I could get a bike donated, then I was meant to do this ride.

Sure enough, LIV sent me a beautiful new bike and helmet, and I also received shoes and clips. I found two friends to ride with me and I started training. I love riding! It was hard work getting ready for the ride, but I just kept thinking about where I had been a year before – bald (again), scarred, tired and weak. Now I was working my way back to my old self, all while raising money for YSC.

Without YSC, I don’t know how I would have made it through my first round of cancer treatment! I was only 36 years old, and there were not many other young people in the support groups or in the chemo room. YSC was exactly what I needed – other women like me who were trying to manage kids and chemo and surgeries. I am so thankful for them and was thrilled to be able to raise money in support of this amazing organization.

The Tour de Pink was so much fun! What a wonderful group of people participating, organizing, and supporting the event. I am so thankful to LIV for my bike because without it I never would have decided to participate in this awesome event.

 

Jessica Kwiatkowski, 2013, 2014, 2015 TdP Rider

First and foremost THANK YOU for the bike I received 4 years ago (I think it has been four years) and it brings me so much joy to know the program still exists!

Prior to signing up to ride in tour de pink and receiving this road bike I had rode my bike to work in high school and rode a crappy mountain bike to work when the weather was nice. I had never rode more than 15 miles or clipped in or wore proper gear. Last year I cycled in my first century on day 1 of tour de pink west coast – I never in a million years thought I would do that…but I did! When I get clipped into the pedals of my ride bike I am no longer intimidated but empowered. I tend to cycle from my home in Chicago to the Botanical Gardens (about 25 miles from my house) and that ride is my therapy. Being on my bike is my happy place…my home.

I am grateful to be as strong and healthy as I am today. I continue to ride to raise awareness that young women do get breast cancer and their cancer is often very aggressive. I continue to ride because I can. Not ever woman I have met along my rides is with us today. I ride with her spirit beside me encouraging me to push on. If I had not received this bike, I would have never gone on to cycle in the3 tour de pinks and I have signed on to the 4th one this October.

In the city of Chicago and in my workplace I have become a cycling advocate. I bike to work on my new Liv Alright I purchased for myself on my 6 year cancer free anniversary. Cycling to work is the best way to start and end the day!

Warmly,
Jessica Kwiatkowski

 

 

Janet Bosi, 2015 TdP Rider

I was first introduced to the Young Survival Coalition in 2011 after I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35. The YSC was an invaluable beacon of hope for me and quickly became my main resource of information, specifically dealing with young women battling breast cancer. So being eternally grateful to this amazing organization I was inspired to try and give back. That’s when I learned about the Liv Survivor Bike and Tour de Pink.

To be honest, up until that point I had never given much thought to cycling, but once I received my bike and went out for my first ride with my son, I was soon reminded of it’s powerfully positive effect. Looking back, I’ve realized what a seminal moment in my life this was. The more I rode, the more I could feel the anxiety peel away. Riding helped focus my mind, eventually putting into perspective what I, and others have gone through.

I understood that surviving didn’t just mean being able to breath, it meant being able to live. It reminded me of what is so easily taken for granted, and taught me how to never let that happen again. I looked forward to riding the Tour de Pink – I needed to push myself to finish the 200 plus miles. I owned it to myself to prove how far I had come. I wanted to use the strength I had gained in defeating this disease to help inspire hope in other young women who were fighting the battle.

The Liv Survivor Bike put me on the path to completing my story of survival, and today I am still an avid rider and an active participant in charity runs.Along the way I have met some of the most incredible people I have ever known. Their stories continue to lift me. The devoted kindness of the volunteers humbles me, and my family and friends honor me with their unwavering financial and moral support in my efforts for YSC.

I could ride a lifetime and still never come close to repaying what was given to me, but I can keep pedaling and try.

Hope to meet you on the road!

 

 

Erin Price Schabert, 2013 TdP Rider

I was so grateful to Liv for providing me with a beautiful bike to ride in Tour de Pink. When I received it I hadn’t been on a bike in 15 years and after a few falls trying to get comfortable in the saddle again, I was able to develop a new found freedom through cycling. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to fly down a hill on a bike with the wind rushing past – it was truly something I had not experienced since I was a kid. At age 30, three years to the day that I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I participated in Tour de Pink East Coast 2013. Through this, I was able to reclaim a piece of myself and participate in something way bigger than I ever would have dared to do before cancer. Thanks to Liv I was able to participate in Tour de Pink, ride further than I ever thought I could, push myself in new ways, and meet incredible people along the way.

 

Bonnie J Perkins, 2012 TdP Rider

How can I even begin to express my appreciation to LIV for the bicycle I was given as a breast cancer survivor and participant in the Tour de Pink.

Prior to breast cancer, I was healthy, fit and active. The breast cancer experience of mastectomy and chemotherapy, truly threw me for a loop and wreaked havoc on my body. What the bicycle did for me changed my life at a time I needed it. 6 months prior, I had finished chemotherapy and had a real challenge trying to regain my body back. I would never have participated in the TDP if it were not for the bicycle I was given. The LIV bicycle was a lifeline for me to return to living again.

Being from Minnesota, I flew out to California to participate in the TDP alone. I will never forget the night before it began thinking… what am I doing? am I even able to do it? I was scared to death but determined.

During the TDP ride it hit me. Looking around at the other breast cancer survivors they were such an encouragement. They showed me that it is possible to live again even after the challenges we had experienced. I did not need to hold back. I felt normal again and part of a team of young women that understood what I had been through. It was truly a priceless experience. I met lifelong friends that I will always cherish.

My sincere appreciation to LIV Giant for the priceless bicycle that I was given! I actually ride it 4 times a week now at home in the winter on a trainer and love it. I am looking forward to riding it outdoors again soon when the weather clears.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

With Love-
Bonnie J Perkins

 

 

Dana Donofree, 2015 TdP Rider

I am so incredibly thankful for the support of YSC, through the donations from LIV for the Tour De Pink. Cancer is expensive, and I would have not had the chance at this life changing weekend without the help of getting a bike from LIV. I am grateful to all they do, as this was an incredible weekend that helped me on my course through recovery and survivorship. I celebrated my 5th year since my diagnosis, and it was a monumental time for me personally. Getting the opportunity to celebrate along side my fellow fighters and thrivers, and honoring those we have lost, will forever be an impact on me and my heart. I love continuing to explore the roads ahead of me on my LIV bike and staying healthy to live a life that is full of purpose and strength!

 

 

Kelly Romano, 2013, 2014, 2015

Hi and thanks for asking this! I would never have been able to ride Tour de Pink without receiving a bike from LIV. I heard about TdP only months after I was treated, it sounded cool but I had no energy and doubted myself. About two years later I looked into it again and put some word out for a team in our local YSC group in Philly. They introduced me to the Fighting Phillies, I signed up and my world was changed. I had never ridden a rode bike in my life and I was scared to death. I went out for several group rides, walked several hills, dropped rides and cried a LOT! As training went on I still doubted myself and I was so scared for my first TdP in 2014. This was the longest ride for TdP and for me. I was able to plug through it realizing that I was never alone even if it wasn’t with my team. I met awesome people and was impressed and inspired by others. I couldn’t be more thankful to Liv Giant for the generous bike donation. This bike got me out of the house and led to an active lifestyle. I joined the gym to crosstrain and stay active during the winter. I am striving to ride my first century on my Giant bike this TdP East in September! I now consider myself a cyclist. Thank you so much Liv Giant, you are helping so many women become active and enjoy cycling.

Kelly Romano

 

Kristy Harper, 2015 TdP Rider

When I decided I wanted to try and do TdP, I wondered how on earth I could possibly afford a bike,helmet and shoes, let alone ride 200 miles. I had not ridden a bike since I was a kid.When I was told LIV, Giant was going to donate a bike and helmet I was elated. The generosity choked me up. Because of what they had done I knew I had to stick to riding and ride the 200 miles. I not only rode the 200 miles but I also lost 25 lbs.that I had gained during cancer treatment. Not only did I achieve my goal but I have also gotten other friends riding. While I was at my lowest point with treatment I never dreamed I would be stronger today than before diagnosis. Thanks to LIV Giant I am conquering goals weekly.

 

 

Laura Shepard, 2015 TdP Rider

Making the decision to do Tour de Pink was a multi-year process and one I am ever so gratified for doing. It was an amazing challenge and I was blessed to meet some amazing people throughout the tour. It was an experience of a lifetime, so much so I registered for a second year. Though I didn’t do the whole 200 miles the first time, it is my goal for this year. None of this would have happened if it had not been for the amazing Liv bicycle Giant donated. It opened up a whole new world and adventure. New challenges to be able to prove to myself my strength and determination outside of cancer. It is more than just a blessing, it is a reason to live.

 

 

Michelle Amos, 2015 TdP Rider

I signed up for my first TdP at the 2015 YSC Summit in Houston. Not by choice. Total peer pressure. Old Breast Cancer (BC) friends were riding again; new BC friends were signing up for the first time. As I was completing my registration I thought this made sense…it would be my way of celebrating 10 years as a triple negative BC survivor that following fall. Not knowing if I would receive a bike or not, I began preparing for the ride. I recruited my fairly new boyfriend to join me on this little bike ride. He said sure, why not. Family and friends had to be told repeatedly what I was planning to do – it takes 7 times for full comprehension. I was asked several times, “Do you even own a bike?” And I went to see an orthopedic doctor to help me physically prepare due to a couple of degenerative discs.

I had volunteered for YSC in Houston for several years. A group of survivors, friends, and family spent many hours on hosting In Living Pink galas. Those were fundraisers of the past. I began to reach out to friends, family and survivors to help fundraise in a different way. It was to help me celebrate my 10 years, support other young survivors, and be engaged with YSC in a different way.

When I received word about my Liv bike, I was so excited to be able to cross that item off my list. It was even more of a surprise when a helmet, pedals and shoes came along as well! My first spin on my bike, just around the block, was the first time I had been on a bike in over two years. The first time I rode the White Oak Bayou Trail, I had to stop way too often, had to walk my bike up a couple of inclines, and took several hours which included a stop at a convience store for some Gatorade. Now, I can ride that trail without stopping, except for stop lights, and am averaging 12 miles per hour.

Preparing for TdP has me doing things I never imagined; it’s not that I didn’t think I could but more of just being content with where I was in life. I finally felt, after 10 years, that I was now just an average person who was dealing with normal aging and life rather than rebuilding from a major life disaster. This experience had me reading everything about cycling, meeting new people, enjoying the outdoors more and in a different way, falling and laughing at the same time when learning how to clip in and out, and creating memories with someone new. I also experienced a new YSC – a whole other world of survivors, supporters, and volunteers. It was amazing to see the sacrifices and generosity of so many people who had been riding for years on behalf of not just loved ones or for the love of cycling, but for me as well.

The 2015 West Coast ride took me 160 miles over three days. Prior to that, the longest I had rode was 20 miles. I surprised myself in so many ways. I pushed myself harder than I thought I would. I came away with so much more than I anticipated. My favorite moment with my bike was when I was riding by the Welcome to Malibu sign. I had driven by that sign many times in life while on vacations, had even taken a picture by it with my best friends. and here I was, on a major coastal highway on a bicycle, pedaling past the sign. A view and an experience not many people get to have in life. It reminded me how far had I come in life, as a survivor, and on that ride. I didn’t stop to take a photo with the sign. I had just gained back momentum from a signficant stop. I couldn’t catch my breath while coming up the previous incline; I had a motorcycle guy, Dave, encouraging me to keep going and to go fast enough so he could give me a push. He stayed with me for a good stretch while I struggled; I wanted to stop by the sign but I knew deep inside I needed to keep going and just hold on to the memory.

When the South Ride was announced, I was so happy to see something happen in my region (I am currently a YSC State Leader for Texas). I was completely surprised when my boyfriend, Gregory, suggested we sign up. Our team, Project TuTu, being a West Coast group and with the 2016 Summit already scheduled the month before, team members wouldn’t be able to make it. So, the two of us signed up representing Project TuTu for the inaugural ride. My bike will be making the trek to the other side of the US with me. I will take another picture with it, will add another TdP sticker on it, will curse on it, will cry on it, and will laugh and smile on it, and I will remember my friends who courageously fought cancer while on it. And maybe, just maybe, I will ride my bike the entire 200 miles.

 

 

Mikala Edwards, 2014 TdP Rider

First and foremost I have to thank all of you for being here. I was diagnosed 3 years ago in September at the age of 25. My first experience with YSC was at the imaging center where I was diagnosed they had a local support group. It was so exciting to see other young women because every time you went to chemo it was a bunch of old ladies, and they are amazing but it’s not the same to hang out with the grey hairs. Even at the YSC support groups the other “young women” were in their 30’s, married, and most had children. I was 25 working on my master’s degree and I was not in that same stage of life. So I went through chemo, I had my surgery and before I went in I told my plastic surgeon I have to go be done with everything by a certain date because I was going to New Orleans on this date for the YSC Conference. They all fought me on it but I told them I don’t care, I will go with drains, whatever I need to do, I am going. I thankfully had my drains out a few days before, and I went and I met the most amazing young women. I was the host of the diagnosed under 25 table and we bonded. I now have a text group that those ladies and I have communicated in everyday for the last three years, they have become my lifeline. This is because of YSC. Now I am a state leader, I am a Face to Face Leader and I have just become the under 30 online peer support facilitator. It’s amazing that at 3 years out I finally feel like I can give back.

Giving back to other young women, because when you are in the stage of life that I was and I still am, you need that support that YSC provides. When they had the Tour De Pink I was in New Orleans and I said I am going to sign up for this that’s awesome! (But mind you I was just out of chemo still in treatment and in no shape to be doing the ride). I was still inspired and I signed up for it, and although I didn’t do it, it was okay because at that conference I made so many other connections. At that conference it was the first time that I was able to go out to the bar with another girl who was bald. Mind you I was followed around by a homeless man all night who thought I was an 80’s pop star and she got asked if she was a Tibetan monk, but it’s okay because we got to celebrate that together and it was normal for us, and it was awesome to have someone there to be able to say we are going to be the creepy bald girls together, let’s go for it!

It was so amazing and that is what YSC does, and when I got the email to talk about the bike that LIV gifted to me and the experience of going through this I was completely honored. I signed up for the race, I got my bike, and I never knew what it would do for me. This bike has meant so much. I realized through this bike that I never coped. I rode with someone this morning who is 18 years out. She was diagnosed in her early 20s and she said, “You don’t know how to cope, because at that age you don’t.” This bike has meant so much. This bike has helped me cope, a bike of all things.
Yesterday I was an emotional mess all day. Never did I realize that I didn’t know how to work through this. And I haven’t’ worked through any of this, because I didn’t know how. I have worked through my fears, I mean clipping into my pedals oh my goodness I was a hot mess. I literally made my boyfriend stand at the end of the street to catch me because I was so scared, I’m going to fall! And now I have mastered the art of falling because I continue to fall, but its little things like that I realize through the pedals and the shoes that it’s that fear of I’m not healthy, the fear of I can’t trust my body and the fear of this race, this bike has really brought me to a place of I have to work through that and I am so thankful because today I can stand here and say I coped with that. And yesterday I realized I am awesome on hills, (I live in Arizona we don’t have hills), but I also realized I am terrified on the downhill. My boyfriend took a video of me today going 20 MPH uphill and 13 MPH downhill but I think that is also symbolic of my treatment and of my journey. I just shut off and said I gotta get through this. Every night before chemo I would just cry because I was so afraid to say I can’t, because you have to do it. I am better at that then coping with it.
I actually met a girl yesterday and we talked about that because in true Mikala fashion I took a digger, and I started crying. I was sobbing and shaking and I couldn’t’ stop. I saw another rider who said I saw you crying and I knew you weren’t crying because you fell. She said “I cried all day” and I told her I cried all day! It’s so lethargic and it’s so healing so to all of you out here you have no idea what you are doing for us, and it’s the encouraging words and the suggestions of hey you should do it like this thank you. I have only been riding 4 months I have no idea what I’m doing! So just thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have also have given so much to my boyfriend who is and has chosen to become my co-survivor. YSC has never forgotten about the co-survivors we are in a stage in our life that it is such an important thing and I thank them for remembering them. I also have to thank LIV. Their liv program has done just that, it’s helped me to live and given me back my life. I just hope you can all thank your donors and just share my story and everyone else’s story because you all have made such a difference and thank you so much.

 

 

Patti Carey, 2012 TdP Rider

What has my Liv Inspire bike meant to me?

The word inspire means to stimulate, motivate, encourage, influence and energize.

I can truly say that my Inspire bike has meant the world to me and changed me in many ways. The word inspire means to stimulate, motivate, encourage, influence and energize. All of those words can be applied to how the bike has changed my life.

When I look at my bike, I think about all of the training that is required to ride in Tour de Pink, the many roads my bike & I have travelled together, and the people I have met while riding my bike. In my wildest dreams, I would have never dreamed of completing my first century last year in California. My bike helped me complete that dream. The minute I get on my bike I know that anything is possible. The end result of completing my first century is a new confidence that at times was taken away by my cancer diagnosis many years ago.

Not only does my bike inspire me to push the limits within myself, my bike has inspired others as well. Many of my neighbors and friends have been able to identify me when riding around town by my bike. The color and design of the inspire bike stands out. As a result, my bike has influenced others to start riding, donate to my ride or simply to know that you can make difference in the world.

My bike has become an extension of me. I love my bike!

Thank you Liv!

Patti Carey

 

 

Rachel Kelley, 2013, 2014 TdP Rider

Hello Team Tour de Pink~

Let me just say first of all I LOVE YSC TOUR DE PINK!!!

YSC Tour de Pink 2012 was my first exposure to Young Survival Coalition. I will never forget it. My husband was the rider, I was “just the survivor”. Lisa Frank came up to us on Thursday night at the little pre-event “happy hour” and introduced herself to us. We didn’t realize she was one of the co-founders. The conversation went something like this:

Lisa: Hello, I’m Lisa Frank. I see you are a rider Christopher, but who are you? (to me ~ my name badge also had Christopher’s name as I was his “plus one”).
Me: He is the rider, I’m the survivor.
Lisa: You’re a survivor!! You MUST be in the Survivor photo each morning at the beginning of the ride.
Me: Um, I’m not riding. I don’t have a bike.
Lisa: That doesn’t matter, you are a survivor, so you MUST be in the photo!!

Each morning, Lisa made sure I was front & center with all the survivor riders. You can tell it’s me in the photos as I am the one awkwardly standing in street clothes amongst the survivor riders. It really made me feel welcome and I look forward to seeing Lisa every year at YSC Tour de Pink.

The next year, 2013, I was a rider on the back of our tandem bike with my husband and our team, Zen Pedalers (I believe we had 8 members that year). We had an absolute blast! I was again standing in the front for the survivor pictures each day, while hubby stayed in the back holding our bike. I was so inspired by the survivors who were participating. Some just out of treatment & others returning for additional treatment. I was definitely hooked! I had a really strong desire to do the ride on my own bike, but I didn’t own a road bike of my own. At the suggestion of Jenna to apply for a bike, I did. I was so very excited when I got the email that I had been selected to receive one of the bikes for 2014, and was anxious as to what the design would be (it was the last year that a breast cancer survivor designed the Avail Inspire for YSC).

It is a beautiful bike. A pink phoenix coming up out of the flames on a black background. I get so many compliments on it. I even got the matching jersey, socks & water bottles (although I don’t use the bottles as I want them to stay beautiful). My road bike means so much to me and strengthens my love of YSC every time I ride. I have put a little over 2600 miles on my bike since I got it! YSC Tour de Pink 2014 will always be special to me since it was my first time riding in YSC Tour de Pink completely under my own power.

The best thing about my 2014 Avail Inspire is how it helps me spread the word about Young Survival Coalition and what a wonder organization it is It has opened up so many conversations over the past couple of years. They start like this:

JQ Public: You bike is beautiful.
Me: Thanks. Yeah, it was kind of expensive…… I had to have breast cancer to get it!
JQ Public: Umm.
Me: The bike was given to me by Young Survival Coalition and Liv/Giant Bikes, now Liv Cycling USA. Because I am a breast cancer survivor and wanted to participate in the YSC Tour de Pink, but didn’t have a road bike of my own, I applied for it and was chosen as one of the many recipients in 2014……

I continue telling them about YSC, the Tour de Pink ride (of course encouraging them to join my team!!) and always try to end the conversation with, “If you can’t ride or donate, please just remember the name Young Survival Coalition, “YSC” in the event you EVER hear of a young woman being diagnosed with breast cancer and encourage her to contact them. They have so many resources available to help breast cancer survivors, especially those under the age of 40 when diagnosed.”

I hope this wasn’t too long. I get started talking about YSC and the YSC Tour de Pink & it is difficult to stop! I can’t say enough wonderful things about YSC and all they do for young women facing breast cancer whether newly diagnosed, a long term survivor or someone with Mets. YSC is family.

~Rachel

 

 

Wendi Holley, 2014 TdP Rider

Dear Liv,

I am so thankful to have received a bike. Hearing the words you have breast cancer is definitely life changing. One of the scariest days of my life. Treatment begins by taking so many things away. I had a mastectomy, hysterectomy, and chemotherapy.

I was finally back to work when I got the email that I was going to receive a bike. I was so excited. Something good out of a stressful time.

Being able to get out on my bike helped me regain my strength. I was so shocked at the difference in riding such a nice bike compared to my old mountain bike. Riding with other survivors, talking about my experiences both good and bad made healing so much easier. I can ride as fast or as slow as I want. The first time I rode over 50 miles in a day felt amazing. Gave me back my belief that with hard work and dedication I can do anything including beat cancer! Being able to ride helped me clear my mind and forget about the cancer for a while.

Thank you will never be enough.

Sincerely
Wendi Holley

 

 

Wendy Brunson, 2015 TdP Rider

I have really enjoyed my bike that you donated to me. I rode in the tour de pink west coast last year. It was really great for me to have something to work and exercise for. It got me out there and helped me feel a lot better after my cancer treatments. I loved doing the ride. I had never been to the places that I rode through. It was such and liberated experience. I could not believe that I could do something like that after having cancer. YSC made me feel cared for and it was so great to be around other survivors and make new friends. I live in a small town so I have not had a lot of opportunities to be with other survivors. I am excited to get out and ride my bike now that it is warming up. I am looking for groups to join and rides to do this summer to keep me exercising. I know that exercise will help keep my cancer from returning and I will feel better about myself. I REALLY appreciate the bike. I could not have done all of this without you. I did not have the money to buy myself a bike. What a great program!
Wendy Brunson