Christmas would be hard, Tina Evers knew that.
It was winter 2018 and her husband’s recurrent colon cancer was getting worse. His hospice care took up most of her attention. Likewise the bills.
It was hard to think of buying gifts when the person who loved them was barely acting on their own, so exhausted from the constant pain and fatigue his illness was causing in his body.
But then they received a surprise check for $ 1,000. The money wasn’t much, but it let Evers focus on her family and husband instead of the bills and other worries.
“It was something that helped take the pressure off Christmas,” said Evers, a 47-year-old mother of three and stepmother of two. “It gave me the freedom to just be with him and not have to worry about the finances and just cherish those moments of being together as a family and enjoying Christmas.”
The check was from Pedal FARR, a local organization that donates money from an annual Sioux Falls bike ride to families whose loved ones have cancer
Her husband Brian died over a week in 2019, which made them even appreciate their last Christmas together.
Now Evers sits on the board of Pedal FARR helping set up his annual 25-mile drive.
The sixth annual Pedal FARR event begins between 11:30 am and 2:00 pm on August 14th at Remedy Brewing Co. in downtown Sioux Falls. Then it meets several other breweries and bars along the bike path, including stops at Monks and the Blue Rock Bar and Grill. This is the first year Pedal FARR has partnered with the American Cancer Society for this ride.
Pedal FARR founder Emily Connolly started the event to raise funds for a bike ride she took part in in 2016. But the next year she decided to donate her share of $ 3,000 to cancer patients.
Since then, the event has grown to more than 300 riders in 2020 and has raised approximately $ 11,000 to give gifts to 11 families in South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. The nominations for the award winners will open on the Pedal FARR website on the day of the event.
This year, Connolly, 46, is hoping to “blow that out of the water” with a goal of reaching 500 bikers on this year’s ride. Drivers don’t have to raise any money to participate, she added, all they have to do is pay $ 25 as an early bird entry fee.If drivers want to buy a shirt too, it’s an extra $ 12, and registration increases after August 7th $ 35.
“It’s people who come out to honor others who have died, to celebrate people who survived, and to support people who are still fighting,” Connolly said.
Mike Fox, 50, has taken every ride since they started raising funds for local cancer patients. Not only is it fun to play sports and hang out with friends, but it also gives the strength to see the event grow and succeed year after year, he said.
“It’s fun, and it’s definitely not a race,” said Fox. “You go at your own pace, hang out with your friends, and support cancer patients along the way. It’s such a small but big thing that we can do.”
Evers took her first ride in 2018, honoring a high school friend who was diagnosed with cancer. Even though Brian couldn’t ride next to her due to his diagnosis, he drove to each of the bar stations to ride anyway. The next year he was honored at the annual Share a Coke event where Evers could share his story and who he was with the group.
This year’s Share a Coke Stop honors Chris Krueger, who was an avid cyclist who died of acute myeloid leukemia in 2016. Every Coke will have Chris’ name on it and when the participants drink, family members can remember and honor Krueger.
“When we added this stop, it was supposed to remind drivers why they were going,” said Connolly. “We drive for people who can’t, and we also allow their families and friends to remember them. For families, it’s a healing moment.”
Evers still attends every year to move forward and to pay up front the generosity her family received.
“It’s a nice, closing thing where you can learn and give back about these survivors and people fighting cancer,” Evers said. “I know I can’t cure cancer, but at least that gives me a way to help somehow.”