Suwannee Democrat

Local News

March 17, 2011

Raymond & Colby’s 2011 Ride for Cancer

O’Brien brothers, one of whom is a leukemia survivor, raise $6,000 for research

Live Oak — He just completed his 6th year of riding his bicycle in these events, this time with his eight-year-old brother Colby beside him.

The 2011 Ride for Cancer event took place on Saturday, Feb. 26 along the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail State Park, which stretches 16 miles from the City of Gainesville’s Boulware Springs Park, through the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area.

This yearly event has special relevance to both Raymond and Colby because Raymond is a leukemia survivor. The 32-mile roundtrip bike ride to Hawthorne and back gave the boys the opportunity to raise even more funds for blood cancer research and all the services young patients require.

Statistics show that leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children under the age of 20. All funds raised for Raymond and Colby’s ride were forwarded by the Student Council of Branford Elementary to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Raymond and Colby’s day started out at four in the morning and by 6:30 they were starting their ride on the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail at Boulware Springs Park.

The first leg of the ride went quickly with a downhill run that rocketed the boys to 16 mph. Of course, after a downhill comes the uphill ride, which was extremely challenging. A quick stop at the Sweetwater Overlook gave them a much-needed break, as well as a beautiful view of Paynes Prairie. Along the trail in this area they also saw several deer.

The second leg was less hilly and traffic on the trail picked up with several cyclists passing them on their way to Hawthorne. They traveled at an average speed of 5 mph, while checking out all the scenic overlooks.

The trail has many break areas where riders can hydrate and have a snack. At the Phifer Flatwoods Reserve, the two boys took an extra long break on a bench swing, as they watched professional cyclists pass by at unbelievable speeds.

At 10 a.m. they arrived at the end of the trail at Hawthorne and they took another extended break. Cyclists from the Gainesville Cycle Club stopped to chat with them and they enjoyed listening to Raymond and Colby tell them about their six-year ride. Some of them even offered a few tips.

“The boys were impressed with the Gainesville cyclists high performance bikes and hearing about all the places the club members have ridden, including Suwannee County,” Mike Mickel, the boys’ father said.

After lunch Raymond and Colby headed back to Gainesville and Boulware Springs State Park. The 16-mile return trip seemed to go quickly for them and the idea of better cushioned seats seemed especially important during this part of their trip. They arrived back at Boulware Springs at one o’clock that afternoon.

“They did run across a crazy person driving their car down the bike trail halfway back, which put a good scare into them,” Mike said. “If that wasn’t bad enough, the car turned around and came back.”

The entire 32-mile bike trip took 6 ½ hours and they were back home by 3:30 ready to rest.

“We are all very proud of their fantastic accomplishment and want to thank everyone for participating in their 2011 Ride for Cancer,” Mike said.

Their goal is to help find a cure for the cancer that struck Raymond at a very young age. They plan to ride their bikes until that goal is achieved. Donations can be sent to Raymond & Colby at 16151 198th Terrace, O’Brien, FL 32071. Make your check out to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.


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