Healthcare Helping Healthcare

Edition: September 2002 - Vol 10 Number 09
Article#: 1311
Author: Laura Thill

Brad Thompson has something big to celebrate, so he’s celebrating in a big way. As the Louisville based-LABSCO director of marketing approaches his 10-year anniversary as a testicular cancer survivor, he plans to honor his clean bill of health by biking cross-country – a promotional effort in conjunction with the American Cancer Society (ACS) to raise money for cancer research.

“This is something I’ve thought of doing for years,” says Thompson, who has been planning the trip for about two years. People have asked, ‘Why this year?’ But really, asks Thompson, “Why not?”

The trip will originate in San Diego, with an approximate departure date of October 19. Technically, the southern route Thompson plans to follow extends 3,168 miles across the states to St. Augustine, FL. While he has every intention to complete the full route, Thompson is realistically committed to the first 2400 miles. “I plan to ride 60 to 90 miles each day,” he says. This should add up to a 30- or 40-day trip. Family obligations, work constraints and unforeseen adverse weather conditions may restrict him from staying away longer than that.

Thompson, who has not biked seriously since college, has spent the last six months riding 150 miles each week to build up his stamina. Of course, he points out, one can only train to a point. A lot depends on the biker’s physical and mental health during the trip. “The key [to a successful journey] is to spend time on the bike,” notes Thompson. “A good day might include six to eight hours of riding.”

“You can’t fully train before a trip,” says Thompson. “But, you continue to get in shape on the road,” he adds, likening his biking challenge to his bout with cancer. “You can’t prepare for cancer. The same goes for the bike ride. You don’t truly know what it’s like until you’re out there.”

“The route I’m taking is a southern route that’s been traveled before,” Thompson explains. In fact, the route is used by the nonprofit group, the Adventure Cycling Association (www.adventurecycling.org), which formed in 1976. “There are only a few sections of biking route out west, however, notes Thompson. The rest of the roads are Interstate highways that are not available to bikers. “The hardest part of the trip will be the western terrain, where it’s 8,000 or 9,000 feet above sea level,” he says.

The trip itself should be fairly low budget (about $5,000) since Thompson plans to “mix and match,” alternating between camping and staying at hotels. “There’s no way to know where you’ll be on any given day,” he says. Other bigger expenses will include food and air fare back home.

Thompson’s goal is to raise $55,000. It’s very exciting,” he says. “The potential is unbelievable. With his rep connections, Thompson is finding a “chain reaction” of support. In addition to accepting monetary donations, LABSCO is receiving vendor donations of free goods, which can be converted to cash and forwarded to the ACS.

While some may think Thompson is downright crazy to pursue such a journey, most offer their encouragement. One of the best shows of support came in the form of a recent Father’s Day card Thompson received from his 15-year-old son, Tyeler. “You’re more than just a dad,” the card read. “You’re an adventurer!”

Thompson looks forward to meeting his family in New Orleans for a Thanksgiving reunion toward the conclusion of his trip. And, in the end, he hopes to have made his own contribution, both to cancer research and the healthcare industry. “This is healthcare helping healthcare,” says Thompson. “Whether we’re working with competitors or others, this should be good for me, LABSCO and the whole industry.”