Cortland man to ride for cancer awareness

WARREN – A Cortland man who has been battling cancer rides his motorcycle across country to raise awareness and money for those battling the disease. Steve Alexander of Cortland will begin his third annual Ride for a Purpose on Saturday.

In 2013, his first year, Alexander rode to the East Coast, driving all the way to Maine. In 2014, a local ride of 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours was held.

This year, Alexander will leave at 10:30 a.m. Saturday from Warren Harley-Davidson store for Tucson, Ariz.

His ride will be 5,000 miles through Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The trip should take five days, weather permitting.

“When I went to the East Coast, I ran into a lot of rain. I am hoping not to run into a lot of rain and heat,” he said.

Alexander said 100 percent of money raised from his ride go to patients and / or their families to help with costs for medicine, clothes, school supplies or whatever is needed.

“The foundation helps families with their rent, medical costs, mortgage, gasoline. Gasoline is always needed because people have to travel to and from the clinics for their treatments. There are families that have to choose between buying medicine or getting school supplies for their children,” Alexander said.

“We raise money to help people. The awareness is very important to show the true cost of battling cancer. It does affect an entire family,” Alexander said.

While his own cancer was in remission for 14 months, Alexander said it has returned.

“I have a disease and it is scary. I ride my motorcycle to help me forget about it,” said Alexander who retired eight years ago from the Warren YMCA, where he was director.

Alexander said while there are many forms of cancer that can be cured, his multiple myeloma cancer is not curable. He will receive treatment when he returns from his trip.

Alexander said he is fortunate to have insurance help him cover costs.

“I met several people at the Cleveland Clinic who needed help. One guy lost his house. There were other people who took their medicine every other day so it would last six weeks instead of four,” he said.

“This is something I have to do to help people,” he said.

Alexander said may people who signed up for Obamacare have very high deductible so they still avoid going to see a doctor. The longer you delay the treatment, the worse it gets, he said.

He said his foundation is for all types of cancer and all ages. All contributions are tax-deductible.

Alexander said local sponsors include Buena Vista Restaurant and Warren Harley-Davidson.

On his way back to Ohio from Arizona, Alexander will be accompanied by a friend driving a car and photographing the ride.

“He has family in Indiana so he will ride with me,” he said.

He said research is so important.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com