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BATH — As he bicycles this weekend from Dover-Foxcroft to Kittery, Jonathan Kelley will be thinking about the father he lost to cancer five years ago, and about his uncle, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in July.
Kelley and four friends are cycling the more than 400-mile trip in the name of Spokes for Hope, an event they initiated to raise money for the fight against cancer. All proceeds will benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.
Kelley, who lives in Caribou and works as a forester, was born in Bath and graduated from Morse High School in 1995. His parents, Brian and Susan Kelley, continued to live in Bath, and his mother recently retired from teaching at the Coffin School in Brunswick.
The cyclists – accompanied by two support vehicle drivers, including Kelley’s wife, Kelly – expect to come through the Mid-Coast on Sunday, entering Topsham via Route 201 and then proceeding to Kittery along Route 1.
The usually heavy Labor Day traffic is of some concern to the team, Kelley said last weekend, but when it comes to Maine’s often unpredictable weather, these are die-hard cyclists.
“As far as weather, we’re just going to put our heads down and go,” he said.
Losing his father to cancer was tough enough, and when his uncle, Mike Kelley, was diagnosed, the avid athlete decided to use his abilities to start a cancer-fighting cause of his own.
“That was definitely the lightning rod,” Kelley said.
Since his father’s death he has traveled to Austin, Texas, to participate in the Lance Armstrong Ride for the Roses cycling event – now known as the LiveSTRONG Challenge – “but with my uncle’s diagnosis it was time to step it up,” he said.
Kelley and his fellow cyclists already ride together and have all participated in the Trek Across Maine and the Tour de la Vallee cycling events.
“We all are like-minded people, and we all have a very big tie … to cancer,” Kelley said. “So we’ve shared our life experiences and what we’ve gone through, and it just seemed that we needed to do something really big to draw attention to the causes that we feel dear to us.”
People can aid those causes at spokesforhope.com by clicking on a cyclist’s name and making a donation through that person’s profile. Kelley is personally raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and he has set of a donation goal of at least $5,000 by Oct. 1. He will then participate in the LiveSTRONG Challenge, which takes place Oct. 24-25. Other cyclists are raising money for the Dempsey Challenge in Lewiston on Oct. 1.
Kelley said he hopes this is year one of an annual Spokes for Hope event.
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.