Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Rock ‘n’ Ride’s 4th year inspired by those currently battling cancer

Jul 17, 2018
Photo by: Grace King The fourth Rock ‘n’ Ride was Saturday, July 14. The event is held annually to raise money for cancer research in honor of those who have died. The day included a three-mile foot race, a bike ride, family activities and an evening Rock ‘n’ Relax where there was a silent auction.

By Grace King, Golden Triangle


Although Angie Staley lives what she calls a kitty-corner away from KC Hall in Washington, Saturday was the first year she decided to hop on her bike and join Rock ‘n’ Ride for the 17.6-mile bike ride — or the or 35.2-mile ride for the ambitious — to raise money for cancer research.

Staley had enough of cheering riders on from the sidelines. Although the ride from Washington to Riverside and back is a “ride you can do every day,” biking with a group and the fun rest stops in between make it more than a training ride, she said.

This is the fourth annual Rock ‘n’ Ride in Washington, inspired by Kim Friese and Karen Van Osdol with proceeds benefiting the University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. This year, the ride was inspired by people currently fighting cancer in the community.

“We’ve had this ride in honor of people. This year, we kept hearing about more people in the community diagnosed with cancer,” said Dave Friese, who started the event after his wife Kim Friese died in 2014 following a battle with cancer.

Runners began a three-mile fun run at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 14, starting from KC Hall and running along the Kewash Trail. As runners began making their way back to KC Hall, the area was busy with bikers registering for the morning. While heavy rain showers delayed the 9 a.m. start, riders took off as the downpour turned to a light shower 20 minutes later.

There were about 50 runners and almost 200 bikers signed up for the event.

“The rain was a perfect start to the day,” said rider Ann Williams, mentioning that it rained in the first ride four years ago.

The camaraderie of the ride is what keeps Williams going. There is always someone ahead and always someone behind and people along the route to wave to.

Mike Sypherd encourages himself and other riders by saying, “No matter how fast or slow, you’re still beating people sitting on the couch.”

This is also Sypherd’s fourth year riding, a hobby he picked up in 2013 as a part of his weight loss journey. In the past 110 days alone, Sypherd has lost 60 pounds, he said proudly.

As riders hit the first rest stop at Larry Marek’s house, riders refueled with bananas, BBQ ribs and of course Gatorade, murmuring with each other about the upcoming hill on Riverside Road.

“There’s no shame in walking up the hill,” Sypherd said. “It’s about putting in the miles.”

Marek opens up his home each year for the cause because he enjoys seeing all the riders and his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren participate in the ride. His neighbor, Travis Brink, cooks up the ribs every year.

This is a way Brink gives back to the cause. For him, cancer is personal. His grandfather died from lung cancer when Travis was four-years-old.

It’s also personal for the riders, many of whom are related to or were friends with the people in whose honor the ride began.

Katrina Strabala was cousins with Kim Friese. She rides for her. As does Strabala’s mother Janet Nicholson.

“It’s awesome to see something like this take place in such a small community,” Strabala said. “I … would like to see other families in the community be a part of it.”

Elaine Moore was neighbors with the other woman for whom the event was begun — Karen Van Osdol, who died in 2010. In fact, Moore adopted Karen’s dog after she passed away.

Additionally, Moore’s brother is battling esophageal cancer. Her other brother recently died from a battle with cancer. “It’s personal,” she said.

Neil Rich, the brother of Perry Rich who died in 2016 and in whose honor the ride was held last year, said much of the Rich family was out Saturday showing their support.

Neil said his brother believed a lot in cancer research, and he’s proud to see his community come out and donate to the cause to pave the way for new treatments.

“Everyone’s here for the same reason,” Neil said.

Mike Van Osdol, husband of the late Karen and co-founder of the event with Dave, said a neat part of this fundraiser is that the money remains in Iowa. Mike praised the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center for being so active in the Rock ‘n’ Ride.

Now, Mike believes Karen and Kim would want the Rock ‘n Ride to be about the people who are currently battling cancer, celebrating them and supporting them in their fight. “It needs to be a positive event, not a time to mourn,” he said.

The riders returned round-trip to Riverside and back to a lunch, family activities and live music. Rock ‘n’ Relax began at KC Hall at 6 p.m. for a silent auction.

Event organizers are still tallying up the total amount raised for cancer research Saturday. The first three events raised $158,000 combined.

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