In the summer of 2004, I undertook an incredible adventure: to travel from the west coast to the east coast of North America by bicycle. The purpose of this event was to raise awareness of melanoma, and to raise money for melanoma research.
This ride was dedicated to the memory of my father, George Madzia, who died of melanoma in November of 2002.
One day early in 2003, I was surfing the web to learn more about melanoma. I came across some information about a man named Steve Farrell, who is a marathon runner and melanoma survivor. In his own words, Steve "needed to do something proactively to make sense of my illness," so in November of 2002, he ran the New York City Marathon, and in the process, started the Miles for Melanoma program in cooperation with the Melanoma Research Foundation. Through this program, Steve has encouraged and made it easier for other athletes to raise funds and awareness for melanoma.
In the fall of 2003, I came across an advertisement for a bicycling touring company called Cycle America, who organizes a coast-to-coast bike tour every couple of years, as well as other regional tours. They provide a Charity Option (formerly known as the Coast-to-Coast Community Challenge), where they provide a discount on their trip fees for participants who ride for the charity of the participant’s choice. This was the idea I had been looking for!
The ride began on June 20, 2004 (which, appropriately, was Father’s Day) in Seattle, Washington, and ended nine weeks later in Gloucester, Massachusetts on August 21, 2004. The route covered over 4,200 miles, 14 states, as well as the province of Ontario, Canada. I rode an average of 75 miles per day, with about one rest day per week. I set a fund-raising goal of $10,000. Much to my surprise, and thanks to many donors and sponsors, this goal was exceeded, with over $13,000 in donations, all directly benefiting the Melanoma Research Foundation.