Journalism professor rides bike on the Set to raise money for cancer research

Have you seen a man riding around campus on a bicycle?

The journalism professor, has been training for a great cause.

Joe Ritchie plans to ride 100 miles Oct. 8 in Austin, Texas to support cancer patients and raise $15, 000 for cancer research through the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

After originally signing up to ride 70 miles, Ritchie decided to raise his goal by 30.

“It’s been over 30 years since I’ve last done 100 miles in a single day, but if it helps raise money to fight cancer I’m going to do it,” Ritchie said.

Ritchie’s desire to help fight cancer all started last summer when a close friend of his wife was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her friend Beatrice’s lung cancer had metastasized to her brain and liver, Ritchie said on his fundraising Web site. Incidentally, she is a nonsmoker.

One of Ritchie’s former students handed in an assignment late because she had to receive chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. “This ride is specifically in support of this young lady,” Ritchie said as he rode his bike on the Set Friday.

Among the several other people of which the ride was in support, Ritchie’s ride is also dedicated to two professional mentors and friends, Bob McGruder and Bob Maynard, who died of bone and prostate cancer, respectively.

These stories including several others have taught Ritchie lessons about what life and survivorship are all about.In attempt to help support Beatrice’s fight, Ritchie began to wear his first “livestrong” bracelet.

The purchase of a “livestrong” bracelet is a visible support of cancer research and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The foundation was founded in 1997 by testicular cancer survivor and professional bicyclist Lance Armstrong. This foundation inspires people affected by cancer, saying, “unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything.”

Armstrong’s foundation provides information and tools to help people live after being treated for cancer.

Mandip Sachdeva, professor of pharmaceutics, said, “there are numerous types of cancers, with lung cancer being No. 1.” In 2004, there were 566,000 lung cancer deaths and the numbers are still growing.

Ritchie began his training in April with the help of his trainer, Colleen O’ Farrell.

Though they have never met, O’Farrell gives training tips to Ritchie via e-mail.

Ritchie said he tries to ride 100-120 miles per week.

Friday, Ritchie rode his bike on the Set from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Many students who learned about his cause donated money. Samona Taylor, 18, a freshman from Orlando, who donated five dollars to Ritchie’s cause, said, “what Professor Ritchie is doing is great. It’s more of a personal experience for me because I recently lost my grandfather to prostate cancer.”

Rowena Nash, program manager/ research coordinator at the Center for Minority Prostate Cancer Training and Research, said, “one in four African-American men are likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.”

According to the American Cancer Society, after men turn 50, even if they do not have major health problems, they should receive the prostate-specific antigen test and the digital rectal exam every year.

Men at high risk, namely black men and men of any background who have a close relative (parent, sibling, etc.) who was diagnosed with prostate cancer at a young age, should begin testing at age 45.

All women should have yearly mammograms, starting at age 40. Women in their 20s and 30s should receive a clinical breast exam every three years.

Women 40 and older should be tested every year.

Ritchie thanked several communities members including family, friends and students who have supported his Livestrong Challenge.

“I would especially like to thank the journalism faculty, writers of the NY Times, as well as FAMU alumni in New York,” Ritchie said.

To those who would like to help support in the fight against cancer, there are several ways to reach out.

You can visit Ritchie’s Web site at or sign up for the Lance Armstrong Foundation at or via phone at 888-4-CHALLENGE.

“I consider myself part of an army,” said Ritchie, who raised $190.07 Friday.

He said he is honored to know the money his raised riding his bike will go towards cancer research and hopefully contribute to a cure.