As you may know, I am about to embark upon an adventure this summer that will undoubtedly be life changing - a bicycle ride across 4200 miles of America. I am doing the ride in honor of, and in tribute to, someone who changed my life - my mom. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in the 9th grade. Breast cancer ultimately robbed my mom of her life - and me of my mother - when I was a senior in college. This disease strikes over 200,000 people (including men) annually, and its cure continues to evade us. With support from my friends, family, and colleagues, I am riding to make a difference in our world by helping to fund research to eradicate breast cancer. My goal is to raise between $50,000 and $100,000 (gulp) to fund the research to find a cure.

I am writing to ask for your help in making that difference. Together, letís provide the dollars to fund breast cancer research so that another ninth grader doesnít have to look into the eyes of her mother as she hears, "I need to have surgery; they found a lump in my breast." Or so that another college age daughter doesnít receive a call from her father saying, "Itís time, come home." I caught a flight, thinking it was the last time I would see my mom alive, never even thinking that perhaps, just perhaps, I would be too late. In my case, it was too late. Two of my closest friends picked me up at the airport. They didnít need to tell me my mom had died; I saw it instantly in their eyes.

How many others have experienced such moments? Letís not sit back and just expect that something is being done. Individually, and as a group, letís make a difference.

After significant research and diligence, I have chosen The Susan G. Komen Foundation (www.komen.org) to be the recipient of our donations. Komen is the worldís leading provider of private breast cancer research dollars, and its mission is to "eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by advancing research, education, screening and treatment." If you have not heard of their amazing work (and even if you have), I encourage you to check out their website.

I am personally funding the ride and this fundraising effort myself, so 100% of all our donations will go directly to Komen. Komenís administrative expenses are less than ten percent. Results of research projects they have funded include the discoveries of BRCA1 and BRCA2 (the genes that are indicators for inherited breast cancer) and tamoxofin (one of the most widely used drugs for treatment and prevention of breast cancer). While the exact program/research grant to which our donations will be targeted is yet to be determined, I commit to you my time, energy and diligence in focusing efforts on ensuring that our donations are put to the best use possible. In addition, if you are interested, you can receive information directly from Komen on the use of our funds.

You may think that there is plenty of money for breast cancer research or that your money will not make a difference. With all due respect, you are wrong. Let me tell you about my Alaskan friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. This person was a major encourager of my going to law school; and, in fact, she kicked me out the Anchorage classroom door when I was a teacher, to make sure I would go. Even though the great news is that they have caught her cancer early, hers is an aggressive cancer; itís Her2Nu+. The medical community knows that her cancer responds well to the drug Herceptin - but right now, it is only approved for late stage, metasticized cancer, and there are no trials or protocols for people like my friend in the early stage. The treatment protocol is the same as if she did not know she was Her2Nu+, because the research dollars just have not caught up.

Perhaps, in the future, treatments will be different and better; but only with research. Our dollars will count, one at a time.

So, that still doesnít explain a 4200 mile jaunt across the country. Well....thatís the fun part! Why not combine two passions -- something I love to do, with something I care deeply about? And, nope, this time I donít even have the excuse of a bet or a dare, which is how I landed in Alaska. :)

Here are some of the other reasons:
  • I miss summer vacations
  • I hate driving/commuting
  • My tentís tired of being in storage
  • Find the best ice cream in the country
  • Lose weight?
  • My friends are sick of hearing me talk about it
  • Research solutions to saddle soreness
  • Celebrate life, and my 40th birthday
    (look out, Dillon, Montana!)
  • September 11
  • Minimize "what ifs"
  • Because I canít, and because I think I can
  • Lifeís too short to just dream
  • Because itís the right thing to do!
In addition, the ride is about seeing and experiencing small town USA, national parks, small cafes, little stops, ice cream parlors, meeting people, and seeing our country -- not on a whirlwind through the window of a car, but mile by mile, from the seat of a bicycle. It's a celebration of what makes our country tick, the blessings we've been given, and, a celebration of life -- while making a difference.

In closing (phew!), I am asking for your help in honoring my mom and the more than 40,000 people who lose their lives to breast cancer every year; and, to give hope to those who will be diagnosed with this disease tomorrow. Please help me meet (and maybe even exceed) my goal of raising between $50,000 - $100,000, and help put an end to breast cancer as we know it today. Together, letís play a part in looking our daughters in their eyes and telling them they no longer need to live in fear. Please return the enclosed pledge card to: 650 Castro Street, Suite 120-289, Mountain View, CA 94041.

And, in the meantime, letís make sure that we embrace life. Live it with zest by following your passions, whatever they may be. Thatís how my mom lived hers. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your support, in all forms (including those who have encouraged me to embark on this adventure).

I look forward to sending you emails leading up to the ride, emails from the road, and, eventually, information on how our donations are being used. I hope to see you along the road this summer, as well as sharing with you, in years to come, the road of life.

In celebration -

Erika Rottenberg
erika@------------.net

P.S. If youíre a cyclist, you should have received detailed information about the ride across the country with Cycle America. (www.cycleamerica.com). There are all sorts of ways to participate and join in the fun - Please let me know if youíd like to!