Sears Blue Time Machine: Ride Sally Ride

Bike 1Picture this: A vintage blue 1960s bike – single gear with coaster brakes only – decked out in safety lights, a front basket, and a bike bell with a Bambi illustration on top. That is the “Sears Blue Time Machine.” And Terrie Fielden-Barry rode it at the MSU Grand Fondo 6 – where she finished in the top third of the 25-mile ride!

“The bicycle was given to me by my parents when I was probably 10-12 years old. It is a Sears coaster-brake, single-geared ‘machine’ that I lovingly called the ‘Sears Blue Time Machine’ because I felt like a kid again when I rode it” says Terrie. The only modifications Terrie made to this 50-year-old bike were swapping out the seat for one more comfortable and replacing a blown inner-tube – otherwise, it was all original equipment.

But Terrie’s involvement in the Gran Fondo goes beyond her bike. Terrie rides for her mother, Sally – whose diagnosis with cancer was anything but traditional.

In December 2000, after experiencing atypical pap smears for nearly 10 years, Sally was advised to have her cervix removed for safety precautions. But tragically, she experienced post-surgical complications that eventually took her life. After her passing, her tissue samples were sent for evaluation. It was discovered that Sally had metastatic melanoma on her cervix and she was diagnosed with Primary Ocular Melanoma post-mortem. “This is an incredibly form of rare cancer” says Terrie, “only recently have cells (groups of women having ocular melanoma with metastatic disease) been discovered nationally.”

To honor her mother’s memory and battle with cancer, Terrie and her husband, Henry Barry, named their Grand Fondo 6 team “Ride Sally Ride.”

Terrie and her new bikeAnd Terrie is coming back to ride with us and honor her mother in Gran Fondo 7! But this time, she will be retiring the Sears Blue Time Machine for her new bike, a 27-speed Fuji Absolute with 3 x 9 gears. “I’ve not yet come up with a catchy name for my new bike. I’m toying with various titles that include the color of the new bike, my maiden name and/or speedy phrases” says Terrie. 

To date, Terrie has reached her fundraising goal for Fondo 7 through the help of her amazing personal donor team of 12 members. “Without them, the ride would not be nearly as meaningful,” she says. “I have pledged to train at least 50 hours on the bike. So far, I’ve ridden over 360 miles/33 hours. Again, this year, I will carry a card with each of my donor’s names, so they can be with me at the finishing line!”

Join the fight against skin cancer on June 22! You can sign up to ride, volunteer or donate at msugranfondo.com.

Sears Blue Time Machine

Two Time Skin Cancer Survivor: Raising her Voice for Awareness

The first emotion Teri Alger felt after being diagnosed with skin cancer was fear. Fear for her two young daughters. Fear of the future. And fear of the unknown. But soon after, her faith took over. She went to regular check-ups, had hope for the best and used her voice to spread awareness.Teri Alger_Photo

In 1979 Teri was on vacation with her family when her sister-in-law, a registered nurse, noticed an abnormal mole on Teri’s thigh. She advised her to get it checked out as soon as possible. A few months later, Teri ran into a friend who shared that he had recently underwent a radical mastectomy due to a malignant mole. Remembering the mole her sister-in-law had pointed out, Teri sought a professional opinion the very next day.

Within two days, she was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma.

Her treatment moved fast – surgery by the end of the week, placement with a team of cancer and oncology specialists and a round of chemotherapy. In the end, Teri was cancer-free! And she remained cancer-free until 2009, when a stage 2 mole was located on her back. Fortunately, the mole was surgically removed and there was no need for other treatments.

Since her diagnosis, Teri has remained an advocate for skin cancer by sharing her own story and educating others. She has also been a loyal volunteer at the Gran Fondo since 2015!

“This is the type of event I dreamed about being part of since 1979. It is an amazing way to spread awareness for all types of skin cancer,” said Teri. “I feel blessed that I can provide not only a ‘success story’ for the event but also help the day of the ride.”

How can YOU help spread skin cancer awareness? Teri suggests working the MSU Gran Fondo. “It is fun, informational, and a blast to root for cyclists or hand out water DSC_1943 - volunteersto them along the way. It is literally for everyone. Skin cancer is a concern that has no boundaries.”

But she also suggests doing your research to educate yourself about the disease – because you never know when you could end up saving someone’s life by sharing this important information. 

Join the fight against skin cancer on June 22! You can sign up to ride, volunteer or donate at msugranfondo.com.

Cyclist Spotlight: Andy Benes

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For Andy Benes, cycling is a family affair. Saturday mornings are typically spent riding with his daughter and son from their home in Jenison, through Millenium Park, to the Blue Bridge downtown and over the river.

He got involved with the ride through Priority Health, where he works as a Medical Economics leader. The health insurance provider is a premier sponsor for the MSU Gran Fondo and has been involved since the ride began. Andy is captain of one of Priority Health’s two MSU Gran Fondo teams.

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During his first two Gran Fondos, Andy rode solo. Now his fifteen year old daughter Katelyn rides the Fondo, with this year’s event being her third time on the 40-mile route. This year, they hope to improve their time by 30 minutes and increase their fundraising, as well. The Benes family enjoys the event so much they schedule their vacations around the ride.

The MSU Gran Fondo’s mission is personal for Andy. He rides in memory of his friend Jerry, who died of skin cancer in February 2016.

“We developed a friendship while working together at Priority Health,” said Benes. After his retirement, Jerry was diagnosed with skin cancer. “His treatment was long and difficult, with complications along the way.”

Every year during the MSU Gran Fondo, Andy reconnects with Jerry’s family. He also reaches out to family and friends, asking for their support in the fight against skin cancer. To date, Andy has raised more than $7,500 for MSU’s skin cancer awareness, prevention and research. Click here to support his fundraising for 2018.

On June 23, Andy will ride the MSU Gran Fondo for a fifth time in honor of Jerry.