Cyclists' 1,000-mile Cal's Angels 'War On Wheels' ride to fight cancer ends in St. Charles
It was only fitting that it be pouring rain Monday as cyclists in the third annual Cal's Angels "War on Wheels" ride crossed the finish line in St. Charles.
The nearly 1,000-mile, two-week bike ride from Mount Rushmore -- which raises awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research and family support and programming -- was plagued with bad weather from the start, according to Cal's Angels co-founder and President Stacey Wahlberg.
"Every single day that they rode, there was rain," Wahlberg said, including the first day out with 40 mph winds and sideways rain when cyclists left South Dakota.
"They made the best of it. They kept pedaling, and they all did this. They all pedaled every single mile."
About a dozen riders did the entire trip, and they finished with 20 on Monday at the finish line after some joined in Iowa City.
Curt Hurst of St. Charles, who has ridden all three years, said stopping or sitting out a leg wasn't an option for them.
"We have inspiration," Hurst said of the kids who battle cancer every day. "The whole reason we do this is for them, so there's no way we're quitting when it gets tough. There were days we wanted to, but they don't get to quit, so we don't quit."
While money is still coming in, Wahlberg said they had raised more than $500,000 so far.
The money will go toward pediatric cancer research, wish-granting and hospital programming -- including 25% to Cal's Angels new partners at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital for research. The remaining will support Cal's Angels comfort kits, which are available to pediatric cancer patients throughout the Chicago area and now Iowa City.
Cal's Angels is a nonprofit organization with a mission to raise awareness, grant wishes and fund pediatric cancer research. Beyond fundraising events, Cal's Angels is promoting Cal's Law, which aims to make diagnostic testing for pediatric cancer patients more accessible.
The bill recently was signed into law in Illinois, with plans to introduce it in other states.