When there was a cystic fibrosis bike-a-thon in Warren County 26 years ago, Darren Turner was the only participant.
He was 16 years old at the time and showed up on his 10-speed bicycle with $161 in pledged donations to ride for his brother, Jeff, who suffers from cystic fibrosis.
“They told me since I was the only one who showed up, I didn’t have to ride, but I rode anyway,” said Darren, who is now 42.
Nearly 26 years to the day of that original ride, Darren is organizing another bike-a-thon, only this ride will feature Harleys and Hondas, not bicycles. He is teaming with Rob Wolford to hold a second cystic fibrosis ride with the funds raised to benefit his brother, who is still dealing with the disease.
“They say cystic fibrosis usually hits in your lungs or your pancreas,” said Turner. “With my brother, it’s hit both. He’s tried as hard as he can to keep working. He even went to school to become a massage therapist, but the doctors tell him he has to stay away from all the chemicals that are in the air at hair salons because that really hurts his lungs.”
Cystic fibrosis is a disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to form in the lungs, pancreas and other organs.
In the lungs, this mucus blocks airways, causing lung damage and making it hard to breathe. In the pancreas, it clogs pathways leading to the digestive system, interfering with proper digestion.
People with cystic fibrosis have a shorter-than-normal life expectancy, but treatments are improving. Fifty years ago, children often died before attending elementary school. Today many people live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.
Turner says he hopes the ride can generate some money to help pay his brother’s medical bills. Jeff is 43 years old. Wolford says he will work to make sure there won’t be a repeat of the ride 26 years ago.
“I know there will be at least two people there even if it’s just me and Darren,” said Wolford. “I’m challenging all bikers to come out for a good cause and help one of our own. It’s a brother for a brother ride.”
The ride is set for Saturday, Sept. 17. Bikes will line up outside Free Bird Bail Bonds at 1103 Smithville Highway with the ride scheduled to start at 11 a.m.
While they don’t know if he will be able to ride, Jeff Turner will be at the start. The route hasn’t been finalized but it will be a loop between 50 to 100 miles, Wolford says.
For more information, call Darren Turner at 808-3457 or Wolford at 247-0331.