Why I ride
YAPS (Youth and Pet Survivors) is a pen pal program at Children's Hospital that pairs kids with cancer and dog (and cats) with cancer. They get to "talk" with each other through letters and emails about their mutual experiences dealing with their health issues. It is very rewarding for both the child and the animal's owners. Although my pen pal dogs haven't been cancer patients, they have all had serious healh issues they have overcome and are matched with kids with similar issues.
For the 14th year in a row, Team YAPS will be participating in the Courage Classic bike ride to benefit Children's Hospital. This will be a difficult ride for me emotionally because Spree passed away unexpectedly in April. It will be the first year since I started riding this tour in 2005 that I will be without a three-legged yellow dog in the bike trailer behind me. Spree's pen pal is a 9 year old girl who had a bone marrow transplant last year for aplastic anemia. Although saddened by the loss of Spree, Ava is excited because Antoine the husky is stepping in to take over the role of pen pal. Ava is doing very well and may be able to come cheer us on over the weekend. We're hoping to get her to ride in next year's Courage Classic!
I began riding in the Courage with Boone's YAPS pen pal Anise when she was 12 years old. Boone and I challenged Anise to ride in the 2005 Courage Classic: I would tow Boone in his bike trailer while she rode a tandem with our friend Jenny. Anise was undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia at the time and was an inspiration for everyone on the ride. She was able to ride with us for the next two years until she had to stop cycling due to joint issues caused by her chemo. Anise conquered her cancer and went on to live a full and happy but short life. She passed away soon after her 21st birthday due to causes unrelated to her childhood cancer. She most certainly will be missed by everyone who had the pleasure to know this fiery redhead and her pal Boone.
Although we are now officially a part of the Wheels of Justice team, Team YAPS still exists! We decided to merge with WOJ a few years ago so the money we raise goes directly to the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders within Children's rather than the general fund as in previous years. If you are so inclined, please go to the Donate button and help kids like Anise and the dogs' pen pals in their fight against cancer.