I first heard of Chuck Wakefield in February 2016. It was a few months after my stem cell transplant and I was still recovering from the massive dose of the chemotherapy Melophin. I was in an all time low up to that point due to a respiratory infection. As I lay there feeling just about as miserable as could be, I read about a group of people who were hiking Mount Kilimanjaro in order to raise awareness of and funding for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation(MMRF).
Well, that’s fantastic, I thought, but my mountain climbing days were behind me. Then I read that some of the climbers were multiple myeloma patients! Wow! Here I was feeling so bad that just getting from the couch to the refrigerator felt like a mountain climb, and these people were climbing Mount Kilimanjaro! One of these climbers was Myeloma patient Chuck Wakefield.
That was the day, as I laid there feeling so miserable, that hope entered my life! Hope that I might still be able to do some of the things I love, like cycling, kayaking, hiking, and power paragliding.
In late summer of 2017, I heard of a group of cyclists who were riding from Los Angeles to Jennings Beach, Connecticut, in order to raise awareness of and money for the MMRF. Then I read that some of these riders have multiple myeloma and one of them was Chuck Wakefield! Wow again! What inspiration!
So on a beautiful October day I purchased some fresh crisp apples from a local orchard to give as a gift to these fine people and set out to meet them. As I rode out of the hotel, I expected to find a worn out, run down, and exhausted group of riders, since this was their 39th day crossing the country. I planned on riding out to meet them and escort them into Niles, Ohio, leading the way and cutting the wind to help them as they struggled to the finish.
But that is not what happened. Here was an energetic happy vibrant group of men enjoying this trip across the country. As I had dinner with these folks that night, I found they all had various connections to Myeloma and all had their personal reasons for doing this trip.
The next morning I rose to a cold wet drizzly day, and took my bike so that I could escort them out of town. I thought it was just an honor to ride with people who were doing such an awesome task is raising awareness of and money for this disease. As this well organized machined prepared to start their next90 some mile ride, I saw my opportunity to thank Chuck Wakefield for the inspiration and hope that he had give me.
Well, as I started to tell Chuck, ”you are the reason I have hope“ my voice began to crack, tears starting to flow. Then trying to apologize for being so emotional, after all I was talking to a retired Army Colonel, I tried to explain to the other team members present in the lobby, that when one is first diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, one hears words like “there is no cure,” and “2 out or 3 patients will die within 2 to 5 years.” So to hear of and meet someone who has not only survived 10 plus years, but seemed to be thriving, was inspirational for me.
As Chuck reached out to embrace me I was glad. I’m not sure if he was attempting to save me from the further embarrassment of saying something else, or he was attempting to hide his own emotions, but as the other riders and the crew of Crossroads reached to hug me, I realized that my eyes were not the only moist one in that lobby.
Apparently it proved to be an inspiration to the riders that day as I watched them pull away from me on the first hill as I escorted them out of town. They had a 90+ mile day of headwinds and rain ahead of them. I turn around, went home, and got out of my wet cloths.
They did indeed prove to be an inspiration to me! Two weeks later I was riding along side them (really miles behind them) in Connecticut on the final day down to the sea. A year later I was a participant in the MMRF Roads To Victories Red Rock Ride in Utah. I cycled 165 miles and our team raised over $85,000 for research. As of this writing, I am registered to ride in the Road To Victories 2019 Ride from Vermont to Quebec! Now that’s something worth being inspired about!
You can help support me and the MMRF At: https://endurance.themmrf.org/R2VVermont/TimNash