Survivor rides for a reason

CORTLAND – A local man will be taking part in a special motorcycle ride this summer raising awareness and funds for those battling cancer.

Steve Alexander will take part in ”Ride for a Purpose” as he brings attention to multiple myeloma, which he has battled with in recent years.

He said multiple myeloma is a rare form of cancer that is incurable. It is a cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell normally responsible for producing antibodies.

The ride – to be held July 6 to Aug. 10 – will take him through several states and parts of Canada.

Alexander said 100 percent of the money he raises will be used to help other people battling cancer with treatment and other costs.

He said he is fortunate that his insurance helps cover much of his chemotherapy and treatment, which he receives at the Cleveland Clinic.

”None of the money is for me. I have spoken to other cancer patients while in the hospital. I wanted to do something for others to help with costs for MRIs, chemotherapy and medicine,” Alexander said.

All money will be donated to the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute and will help individuals with all types of cancer, not just multiple myeloma.

”The ‘cost of cancer’ is unimaginable, both in terms of the physical and mental effect it unleashes on your body – in addition to the financial burden associated with transplants, treatments, medications and hospitalization,” he said.

The ride is 6,000 miles starting at Warren Harley-Davidson in Bazetta on July 6. First, Alexander will travel 60 miles to the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Care Center.

Along his route he will stop at YMCAs, which will host events to help raise more money for the effort. There also will be cookouts and other special events planned at different sites.

Alexander, who had served as executive director of the YMCA in Warren for seven years, said the route will take him to Richmond, Ind., after he meets up with other Harley-Davidson riders in Dayton.

His wife, Margie, will ride with him part of the way to Bloomington, Ill., and then return home and meet him at the end of the ride. Alexander said he has asked one of his sons to ride some of the way with him.

Alexander said in 2012 he was receiving chemotherapy and was not able to ride because of back pain.

“I have put rest days on my schedule,” Alexander said.

On July 15, he is scheduled to arrive in Alexandria, La., where he will fly home for a few days to receive treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. He will leave his motorcycle at a Harley-Davidson dealership.

When he returns July 19 to Louisiana, Alexander will meet with a dozen other motorcycle riders who will travel with him to Nags Head, N.C.

Alexander, who has lost 50 pounds, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and blood plasma cancer in January 2012.

“I want to bring attention to this because I have a rare form of cancer. When you hear that you have cancer, it is three words that you don’t want to hear. My cancer is incurable. I’m not as afraid of dying of cancer as of living with cancer, but I will not let it stop me from doing what I want to do,” he said.

Alexander began chemotherapy in January 2012 and will continue it through August 2014.

“My wife and family have been so supportive of me wanting to do this,” he said.

Also during the ride, he will speak to groups and organizations about cancer.

To date, Alexander has raised more than $5,200 for the ride, including a $2,500 donation from a drug company that provides chemotherapy. He said his goal is to raise $20,000.

Alexander said while traveling, he plans to see some sites, including an Air Force museum in Alabama.

The tail end of the ride will take him into the northeastern United States and parts of Canada before returning him to the Cleveland Clinic on Aug. 10.

Registration for the ride is available at Warren Harley-Davidson in Bazetta. Motorcycle riders who will accompany Alexander will be asked to pay $15 per person. Riders, too, will be encouraged to help raise money.