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A ride to remember

This Saturday cyclists will jump on their bikes and ride for a cause.

Dick Shaffer was a husband, father of two young boys, coach, mentor and a true inspiration to all who knew him. When he lost his battle with esophageal cancer, others wanted to give back.

According to Julie Shaffer, Dick's widow, Matt O'Brien suggested hosting a cycling race and have the proceeds go to cancer research.

"Neither of us had ever planned an event like this before, but we both decided to take it on and see how it turned out. It has been a huge success," Julie said. "Each year new cyclists find out about it and sign up and then we have our returning cyclists that love having a local event to participate in."

The first year of Race for Hope, May 2006, 80 cyclists turned out to ride in Dick's memory. In 2008 the number had grown to 111 cyclists. This year there are about 50 people signed up, but the number always seems to double come race day, Julie said.

Dick's diagnosis and subsequent battle all began with a routine physical. When he was diagnosed in 2003, the cancer was already at stage three and the prognosis was less than 20 percent chance of survival. But through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, followed by intensive surgery, Dick was able to achieve remission.

"During remission he was chosen to ride with Lance Armstrong and other handpicked cyclists to ride in the Bristol Meyers Tour of Hope," Julie said. "He rode 3,300 with his team spreading the word about clinical trials and the importance of cancer research."

The band of cyclists took their message from California to Washington, D.C. during a nine-day journey. Along the way, Dick stopped at several children's hospitals where he gave inspiration to the children going through their own battles with cancer and chemotherapy treatments, and there he shared his story with them.

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