Hundreds of bikers are gearing up for the annual Riders for Survivors event June 24. The ride covers 100 miles with four stops along the way. The purpose is to raise money for a free program offered by the Dahl Family YWCA's Live Strong Program.
Casey Kapter was having the best year of his life until he injured his foot on the job. His doctor put him on antibiotics but his foot wouldn't heal. A blood test revealed he had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. It's mostly found in children and only one in 300,000 adults get it. From that moment on, Casey said he
knew he had to get tough if he was going to beat it.
Casey Kapter...can't stop, won't stop. It's the motto he adopted for himself after being diagnosed with cancer. He said he had to.
"I don't care what the statistics are, I don't want to know what the statistics are. I'm gonna beat this thing," said Casey.
Losing his physical strength from chemo was worse than he expected. It almost crushed his spirit.
"I'm always the big guy who helps you move the couch or your TV. Having to admit that at least for now I need people's help was at least the most difficult thing for me," said Casey.
Casey's doctors suggested he join the Live Strong Program a the Dahl Family YMCA to help him get his strength back and boost his spirits.
Denise Malone is a Cancer Survivorship Coordinator. "You have that opportunity as a cancer survivor to come into an environment where everything is confidential and you can connect with people that just get it and you know if you feel you need to talk about the cancer piece and what your fears are, it's safe. It's a real safe place to do that. If you don't want to talk about cancer you don't have to," said Denise.
She's been helping cancer survivors get strong mentally and physically for eight years. She was asked to lead the program because of her strong physical fitness background and she's got a personal connection. Her identical sister was diagnosed with cancer around that time.
"There was no program like this for her when she was diagnosed. At that point I already had my personal trainer certification and she called me up and said
Denise I can't even walk to my mailbox so she asked me to write her up a program, said Denise.
Her sister might not being doing half marathons but she can walk across the room again without getting winded. Having people to help you get your strength back is only one part of Live Strong but having a positive support system is the other.
"There are others who are on a very similar path they might not be on the exact same path but they thoroughly understand what you've gone through
and they share that burden with you," said Casey.
Whether fighting cancer yourself or cheering on a loved one from the side line, Denise says Live Strong gives people their power back.
"You never feel like you can do enough as a caregiver. This is my way of giving back to the community that I live in and supporting the cancer survivors to really strengthen the community really get them back doing what they were doing before they were diagnosed," said Denise.
Today over 700 cancer survivors have graduated from the Live Strong Program with a new outlook on life and feeling stronger. If not today, then soon.
"Mentally absolutely. Physically it's on a day to day basis. Some days are better than others but compared to where I started compared to where I am now. I feel like a million dollars," said Casey.
Casey is the honorary ride master for this year's Rider's for Survivors Sunday morning June 24. The ride departs from Rod's Ride on Powersports in La Crosse Sunday morning between 10:30 and 11 a.m.
Tickets are $25, $30 the day of the event. Lunch provided by Premier Catering with each ticket. The meal is served at Miracle Field at the Houser
Branch in Onalaska at 3:30.
Raffle and door prizes to follow the meal.
For more information go to www.laxymca.org