By Rosie Alger
Elm Staff Writer
On Sept. 13 and 14, James Shaw, patrol officer for Washington College’s Department of Public Safety, biked more than 150 miles to conquer cancer. The race was part of Baltimore’s first Ride to Conquer Cancer to benefit the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
According to their website, the Ride to Conquer Cancer funds “leading clinicians, scientists, and researchers whose search for new discoveries and improved patient outcomes will have a real impact in our communities.”
Epic impact was a slogan of the race and over 1,000 participants were able to achieve that with a fundraising total of $2.6 million.
For many participants their motivation for racing was personal and Shaw is no different. “I was actually working the night shift and I heard it on the radio,” he said. “They said they were doing a cancer research fundraiser. My mom had passed from cancer last year, so my initial thought was ‘Hey I could do that.’”
Shaw’s mother, Nancy Shaw, was not the only person who he was honoring on his ride. Assistant Director of Human Resources and Benefits Administration Shirley Haymaker’s name was also displayed on Shaw’s jersey.
“I knew Shirley was a cancer survivor and is still battling…There are so many people affected by cancer,” he said.
For years Shaw has been biking around campus and the Chestertown area, but he was not a serious member of the biking community until he learned of this race. According to Shaw, the event is just like Relay for Life, but on bikes. Similar to Relay, the event is long and requires commitment as well as endurance.
The scenic 150-mile ride spans through Fredrick and Montgomery counties. In total, the ride is about the equivalent of biking to New York City from Chestertown.
Shaw registered and began training in May. “I just kept training, and got up to where I was doing around 50 miles every couple of days,” he said.
He even had to trade in an old vintage road bike for an upgraded version to withstand all the use.
In order to ride, everyone registered had to raise at least $2,500. Shaw said that some people from the WC community donated and helped him reach his goal. “It all adds up. When it’s all said and done I should be at about $3,500 for 2014. So now I’m starting again on 2015,” he said.
According to Shaw, the event is very well organized. “They have a nice campground at the end of the first day, with a catered dinner, a band, [and] some entertainment.”
Volunteers transport your luggage to the campground and assist at pit stops. There are even mobile roadside mechanics in case of issues.
Despite bad weather on Saturday and one flat tire, Shaw had a very positive experience with the event and met a lot of people who were all biking for the same reason: to conquer cancer.
Shaw was even featured on the Channel 13 News segment about the ride.
Now Shaw is looking forward to next year’s ride and hoping to get more of WC involved. “I’d like to put together a team from WC,” he said.
Shaw is especially hoping that some of Greek Life may be interested in riding or volunteering.
“Now I’m looking at other things I can do, to push myself more. They have a ride across Maryland and one across America that I’m looking to get into,” he said.
Shaw is an excellent reminder that everything counts in the fight to cure cancer. If you’re interested in getting involved in this event for next year, contact Officer Shaw in Public Safety.
Last spring when Shaw first heard about the event, the advertisement pushed people to “join the ride to victory,” and now Shaw is pushing WC to do the same.