Why WE Ride – Tom Cunningham


This blog was written by Tom Cunningham, Team Captain of  Rupp Baase Pfalzgraf Cunningham

Our story began in April 2011. We received the news everyone hopes they will never have to hear.  My wife, Cheryl, was diagnosed with brain cancer.  We were overwhelmed. Paralyzed. The day after the diagnoses I received a phone call.  I heard the voice on the other side, “Hello Tom, this is Dr. Prasad from Roswell.  We are here to help you. Let’s talk about a plan.”  These may not have been the exact words, but it was what I heard.  The message was clear, and I felt comfort in knowing that the Roswell doctors, and medical staff, were ready to lead us in our fight.  Dr. Prasad, Kathleen McGlaughlin, and their Team were our lifeline over the next 12 months until Cheryl passed away on April 15, 2012.  There were many calls, texts and emails that were always answered promptly.  They provided guidance, advice and finally sat with me while I cried after they had to deliver the harsh reality.  Despite their efforts, the disease could not be stopped.  We were treated with respect, dignity, and compassion from the moment we walked into Roswell to the last day we walked out.

Why does our family Ride?  Hope.  That for each person diagnosed there will be a cure.  Love. For a mother, wife, daughter, and friend. Community.  For all the families who have endured the fight to know they are not alone.  Life. Because life goes on, and it is a privilege to honor the memories of those who have not survived by living a fulfilling life committed to making a difference.  Cheryl was at our first team Ride in 2011.  She finished her first round of radiation treatment the day before.  She took her chemo mediation, put on her team shirt, packed the food for the celebration, and was there to greet the team as it finished.  She has inspired a team that has had over 250 riders. Our team has raised over $300,000 since 2011.

We ride because Cheryl never gave up.  If she were still with us, she would be rallying the troops, uniting us all for the cause, planning the celebration of life, and reminding us all that we have to live each day to the fullest. She has inspired her courageous children to live life fully, and to begin to put their unique talents into the world to make a DIFFERENCE.  We ride because we KNOW WE CAN DO JUST THAT!

In loving memory of the woman who inspired a new generation of riders.