Biking for a cause, men stay in PdC along journey to New Orleans

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Geoff Clark, Jim Frey and Dick Bartz stayed at the Country Inn & Suites in Prairie du Chien Tuesday night, after three days of biking an average of 95 miles per day. They are riding 1,600 miles from Minneapolis to New Orleans on a mission to raise funds to fight cancer. (Photo by Correne Martin)

By Correne Martin

A small group of bicycling business executives are at the beginning of a journey that will challenge their physical and mental limits, with a goal to raise awareness and $200,000 to detect and treat cancer in underdeveloped countries.

At the ages of 50-plus, five Columbus, Ohio, men started a 1,600-mile, 17-day trip from Minneapolis, Sunday, Oct. 15, through eight states to New Orleans. They stayed overnight at the Country Inn & Suites in Prairie du Chien Tuesday. Wednesday, they set out for their next stop in Dubuque.

Jim Frey (70), Dick Bartz (65+), Mike Jerome (60), Mark Donati (55), and Geoff Clark (50), aka the “Five x Fives,” are not your typical competitors. They come from a variety of professions and backgrounds and ride as enthusiasts, not professionals. However, they are no strangers to long rides. Clark rode cross country from San Diego to New Jersey in 21 days raising money for the American Cancer Society. Frey also raised funds for the American Cancer Society by riding from Portland, Ore., to Columbus, Ohio, in 1990, spanning 20 days.

The men—who were down to three without Mike and Mark who bowed out before Prairie du Chien—are riding to support an organization working to end cervical cancer in underdeveloped countries.

“It’s all about team,” Frey said. “The hardest part is getting up in the morning.” His fellow riders noted that loading and unloading of the equipment in their accompanying vehicle and “not stopping to take pictures” along the beautiful route are also difficult moments in their journey. Frey’s nephew drives the lead vehicle and helps the group meet with the media along the way.

According to the “Five x Fives” YouCaring page, the Women’s Global Cancer Alliance (WGCA) is a Louisville, Ky., nonprofit organization on a shoestring budget with apassionate mission: to provide life-saving cancer screenings for women. Dr. Robert Hilgers is the founder and champion of WGCA. He travels to Haiti and works to detect cervical cancer and provide preventive care. Frey learned about his work in 2014 and decided to help. Frey completed a 720-mile solo ride in November of that year, raising $80,000.

Inspired by the impact the funds made on the organization, Frey decided to organize another ride for October of this year, doubling the distance and recruiting some friends. Each team member has been affected in some way by cancer through friends and relatives which is their inspiration to make an impact.

To participate and help ensure the “Five x Fives” reach $200,000, donate toward their goal of fighting cancer by visiting www.fb.com/fivexfives or www.youcaring.com/womensglobalcanceralliance-905500. As of Tuesday, the group had raised almost $31,000.

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