BREWER, Maine — When the manager and owners of Vacationland Village Inn & Suite heard that a group of bicyclists would be stopping in Brewer on their 1,000-miles-in-10-days trek to raise awareness about GIST cancer and funds to fight the disease, they felt an urge to help out.
“They actually just reserved the rooms,” Ross Bradford, who owns the motel with his wife, Cheryl, said Saturday, just before the 23 riders and support staff rode into the driveway. “We thought, ‘Why not help?’” and donated the rooms. “Every family in Maine is touched by cancer. My father died of cancer.”
Gastrointestinal stromal tumor, or GIST, is a rare type of cancer that attacks the digestive system. Family and friends of Peter Thomas, a Briton who died of GIST in 2006, decided to challenge themselves to ride 1,000 miles in 10 days and chose eastern Canada and New England for their ride. Brewer’s stop was day three on the trip from Montreal to Rockland Lake State Park in New York.
“They’re coming from all over the world and they’re paying for everything themselves,” Vacationland manager Brock Bradford, the son of Ross and Cheryl Bradford, said Saturday.
He had just been on the phone with Kathy Dorr, owner of the Coach House restaurant next door, who also agreed to help out.
“This meant a lot to all the riders,” states the ride diary, which is posted online daily at giste2e.net. “Little did we know that the next morning Brock was riding with the team and his mum and dad joined as support team.”
Day four took the group and the Bradfords from Brewer to Bar Harbor, a 43-mile trip.
“A short ride and welcomed by all to recover sore muscles and other tender parts with an afternoon off the bike,” the online diary states. “Some enjoyed a tourist experience in Bar Harbor, some lovely lobster sandwiches and local ales and some shopping.”
By Monday, day five, the group had raised $24,550, according to the Web site. That day they left Bar Harbor heading to Belfast and should arrive in Yarmouth today.
If all goes as planned, the riders in the 2009 Peter Thomas Ride should arrive in New York on Oct. 5.