Denver Bar Association
May 2007
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Why They Ride

by Ingrid Heiser

Bernie Gehris lost his two-year-old son, Nathan, to cancer in 1993. Nathan had a brain tumor called an astrocytoma, located in his brain stem. Because of its location, chemotherapy and radiation were not treatment options. The doctors at Children’s Hospital Oncology Unit suggested surgical removal of the tumor as having the best possible prognosis. The surgery was a success, but tragically Nathan died from complications of pneumonia shortly after the surgery.

Bernie (left) and Connie Gehris at the Frisco Aid Station at the 2004 Courage Classic.

Bernie and his wife Connie give Children’s Hospital the "highest praise" and say that their experience was "second to none" when it came to their son’s medical care. Although they lost their son, they know that they received the best possible care they could have found anywhere. From the initial cancer diagnosis, to pre-op, and even after their son passed away, the doctors continued to keep them informed and support them through the entire ordeal. The surgeon wrote letters on their behalf to the insurance claims department and even called their insurance company when mistakes still weren’t corrected. The doctor came to the hospital in person at all hours to give them test results, so that they wouldn’t have to hear the news over the phone. All this and more was done without solicitation. "The doctors at Children’s Hospital are not only brilliant and talented, but they have heart," said Bernie. "They not only care about the kids, but their families, as well."

After his son’s death, Bernie re-evaluated his life. He decided to change careers and go to law school. He also started to ride, and found riding to be therapeutic. The Courage Classic is one of many bike tours he’s completed over the years. As a solo rider, he has raised more than $8,000 in funding for Children’s Hospital through the Courage Classic, which stretches over three days and 154 miles. He also became a member of the Children’s Hospital Oncology Advisory Board, of which he is still a member. The board mainly focuses its efforts on fundraising and education for research. Bernie also is a member of the Wheels of Justice Leadership Council.

"We are honored to have Bernie Gehris with the Wheels of Justice team this year," said Wheels of Justice chair Heather Purcell. For the second year in a row, the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations have joined with leading law firms and local businesses to sponsor the Wheels of Justice riding team for the Courage Classic race July 21–23. The 2007 team goal is to recruit 200 riders and raise $200,000. This year, the Wheels of Justice team is dedicating its ride and donating all monies raised directly to the Children’s Hospital Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

The Wheels of Justice kick-off party will be at the Celtic Tavern on Thursday, May 3, 6–8 p.m. DBA members are invited to attend to support the riders. There will be food, drink and door prizes, as well as doctors and specialists from Children’s Hospital to present information about their latest research initiatives and activities.

Bernie Gehris rides in memory of his son, Nathan Gehris. Why do you ride?


For more information about the team and its generous sponsors, visit http://www.couragetours.com/2007/team/wheelsofjustice. For more information about joining the team, contact Ingrid Heiser at iheiser@cobar.org or Heather Purcell at hpurcell@levinepurcell.com. To RSVP for the kick-off party, contact Ingrid Heiser at iheiser@cobar.org. There is no cost to attend.

Bernard Gehris is an Associate with the law firm of Burns, Figa & Will P.C. in Greenwood Village. His areas of practice are water, environmental, agriculture and litigation. He and his wife Connie have two daughters. Allie is 12 and attends Campus Middle School. Amanda is 18 and attends the University of Puget Sound.


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