How You Can Support the Ride to Conquer Cancer

ride to conquer cancer event

John Dunn, administrative director for Diagnostic Imaging at Howard County General Hospital, is riding to conquer cancer this fall in memory of his father. He’s pictured here with his dad in front of the St. Louis Arch in 1976 and more recently in 2012 at Ocean City, NJ where the two biked together on vacation.

Father’s Memory Inspires Hospital Leader to Take Epic Challenge

What makes a person willing to ride 150 miles in just two days throughout Maryland? Knowing that you’re doing it for a good cause, a precious memory of a loved one. I’m riding in this September’s Ride to Conquer Cancer in memory of my father, also John, who lost his life to cancer a few years ago. By doing so, maybe I’ll be helping rid our world of the disease, so cancer can no longer rob us of precious moments with our loved ones.

Some of my favorite memories of my dad involve bicycling. I vividly remember one ride in the late 1970s through the Missouri countryside, near the house where I grew up. We started at dawn on a humid summer morning, and rode all day on the gravel roads in the Boone County countryside, through cow pastures and cornfields. I also have fond memories of bicycling up and down the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey, and roaming the island on bikes while on vacation.

My father grew up just outside of Philadelphia. He loved sports of all kinds. He played high school basketball and ran track. He was also president of his senior class. After graduating from Penn State in 1959, he served in the Army in Fort Lee, VA. Following his discharge, he worked in retail and switched careers in the 1960s and completed a Ph.D. in agriculture at Rutgers University. He then joined the faculty at the University of Missouri and initiated the turf grass research program for the College of Agriculture. He remained involved in sports–he was a longtime member of the Columbia (Missouri) Track Club and coached youth soccer.

In October 2011, a few years after he retired, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was shocking news to us all, especially since he had never smoked. He weathered the next year with courage and dignity, never complaining. He passed away on Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 at home with me, my sister and my mother by his side.

During his last year, my dad talked to me about how dying is part of the circle of life. He said, “Don’t fear dying. I have a feeling there are surprises waiting for us that are beyond our imagination.”  I don’t think he necessarily meant that in a conventional religious way. I do think he meant that life, and the universe, is more wondrous than we can grasp during our time on Earth. When I’m biking, I think about his words.

It’s been fun training for the Ride to Conquer Cancer in September. I’ve been riding on the Capital Crescent Trail, which starts near my house in Silver Spring and skirts the western border of Washington D.C., ending in Georgetown. From there, it’s a straight shot back up through Rock Creek Park to Silver Spring. It’s about 22 miles and is wonderfully scenic. As I ride, I think of how much my dad would have enjoyed the views of the Potomac River and the D.C. landmarks. Riding is a chance to reflect on some of the good times I spent with Dad.

My dad had a great sense of humor – I think I miss him most when something funny happens. He dearly loved his five grandchildren, and I wish they could have had more years with him. I wish I could have had more years with him. I’m doing my part to help conquer cancer by riding in this upcoming event and I would greatly appreciate your support.


The 2015 Ride to Conquer Cancer is a two-day, 150-mile ride benefiting the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and Howard County General Hospital. The hospital team, led by Steve Snelgrove and Ryan Brown, includes physicians and staff who are taking this challenge to support cancer patients everywhere. Support John here. Our goal is ambitious and we can’t do it without the support of our community members.


1 Comment

  1. Tagie

    Thank you for sharing such fond memories of your father and best of luck on the ride. Your Dad would be very proud I’m sure.