Denver Bar Association
March 2011
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Difficult Climbs, Exhilarating Descents, and the Road Ahead: A First Timer’s Trek in the Courage Classic

by Dennis Kaw


Volunteers offer low-fives and medals to riders who crossed the finish line at the 2010 Courage Classic.

As my lungs gasped for air and my legs burned beyond the point of exhaustion, I heard the welcoming sounds of bells ringing. The finish line was in sight and it marked the end of my inaugural three-day, 157-mile Courage Classic journey. Sheer adrenaline pushed my bike and beer-bellied self past the finish line. I then stopped as a young girl with flowers in her hair and the biggest smile on her face put a commemorative medal around my neck. As I selfishly basked in the glow of personal accomplishment that poured through me, I suddenly realized that for the young girl who put the medal around my neck and for many of her friends at The Children’s Hospital, the finish line in their personal journeys to overcome their illnesses was not always guaranteed.

The Wheels of Justice Cycling Team is one of many teams that participates in the Courage Classic.
The Wheels of Justice Cycling Team is one of many teams that participates in the Courage Classic.
Members and supporters of the Wheels of Justice Cycling Team presented a $1 million check to The Children’s Hospital on Oct. 21 at the team’s appreciation party. The $1 million was raised in five years by the team.
Members and supporters of the Wheels of Justice Cycling Team presented a $1 million check to The Children’s Hospital on Oct. 21 at the team’s appreciation party. The $1 million was raised in five years by
the team.

Riding the Courage Classic is an inspiring experience that cannot be adequately described in words; yet, it’s an experience that will forever change your perception of what it means to be charitable. I didn’t have to ride to know that The Children’s Hospital cares for children with serious illnesses or that the Wheels of Justice Cycling Team raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for the hospital. I also didn’t have to ride to donate money to this good cause. However, I did have to ride to learn that the Courage Classic is symbolic of the difficult journey that children with illnesses fight on a daily basis—illnesses that no child should ever be made to battle.

Like the children, riders experience difficult climbs, exhilarating descents, and the seemingly endless struggle with the road ahead. Along the way, a community of strangers, volunteers, and other riders encourage each rider to finish. At the end of the ride, the entire experience is put into proper perspective by the emotional sight of Team Courage—a team of patients and their families crossing the finish line.
Like past years, I had no intention to ride last year. After all, the last time I rode a bike was when Vice President Dan Quayle was learning how to spell potato. So, I thought, there was no way I could possibly ride 157 miles, let alone climb Vail Pass. But I did it. In the process I learned the proverbial life lesson—if you don’t try you will never succeed. It’s a lesson each patient at The Children’s Hospital must live each and every day.

I wish I could tell you that my decision to ride stemmed from my desire to help the children. It did not. I rode because I met some very fit, beautiful women who were going to ride. In the hazy moment of testosterone-induced stupidity that followed, I bought a bike and signed up with the Wheels of Justice. I then trained, embarrassed myself multiple times, and ultimately got nowhere with the women who motivated me to ride. Nonetheless, my irrational decision to take the Courage Classic journey allowed me to experience, in a very small way, the struggle these children face every day. This experience has forever changed my perception of what it means to be charitable. D

In addition to riding for the Wheels of Justice Cycling Team, Dennis Kaw is General Counsel for Appliance Factory Outlet™.

Join the Wheels of Justice

by Heather Purcell 

Find fun, friends, fitness, and fulfillment—all while supporting The Children’s Hospital Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD).

In our first five years of riding in the Courage Classic Bicycle Tour, the Wheels of Justice cycling team has raised more than $1 million for The Children’s Hospital. In 2011, we hope to add at least $250,000 more to that total for the CCBD.

Please visit wheelsofjusticecycling.org for more information on team training rides, parties, clinics, and other activities. Lawyers and non-lawyers are welcome, as are cyclists of all ability levels.

Below is a note from Dr. Tom Smith of The Children’s Hospital’s CCBD: 

All of us at the CCBD would like to thank the Wheels of Justice team for their hard training for the Courage Classic and all of your fundraising efforts. We know many of you have a lot of briefs to file, motions to extend, and Yellow Pages ads to prepare, so we thank you for your efforts.

All joking aside, your support for CCBD is incredibly important and very timely. We are making huge progress in the fight against pediatric cancer, almost on a yearly basis. It’s an exciting time for our field and for the children. And CCBD, right here in the Denver–Aurora area, is one of the country’s primary leaders in both basic science and clinical research. I would love to have you meet Peyton.  He’s a 5-year-old from Park Hill, diagnosed with Philadelphia positive leukemia. If he had been diagnosed 15 years ago, when I started out, I don’t think he would still be alive. Now, because of recent treatment advances, he is on oral medications only and, for all practical purposes, a normal kid who just started kindergarten in the fall.

Our clinic is full of amazing stories like this—of Colorado and Rocky Mountain region kids benefitting from your hard work. Because of the importance of what you are doing, there has been a groundswell of support at CCBD for the Wheels of Justice team. Many of the doctors (myself included), nurses, spouses, patients’ parents, and friends rode with WOJ in 2010, and we all enjoyed the experience. In 2011, we hope to see some of our survivors ride, too. I see your efforts growing and growing.

Thank you for all your support and commitment,

   —Tom

 


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