|MSU professors going on 'Darrell's Ride' for cancer research|
Note: Darrell's Ride was canceled after a bicycle accident during training for the ride. Thank you to all who donated to this cause, and Dr. Frank Wyatt said, in a Facebook post, that he will carry all the names and motivation for him during his rehab. Following is the original story.
A Midwestern State University professor wanted a great way to remember his lifelong friend. And he wanted to do it while being a force for good. Anyone who has bumped into Frank Wyatt knows the Professor of Exercise Physiology is up for a challenge especially when a bicycle is involved.
Darrell’s Ride was born as Wyatt and MSU Texas cycling director Charlie Zamastil plan to ride their bicycles approximately 925 miles over the course of two weeks from the flat land of Wichita Falls to the mountains of Colorado beginning June 19.
The goal is to honor the life of Darrell Seward and all cancer survivors by raising money for the University of North Colorado Cancer Rehabilitation Institute (UNCCRI). Seward was a longtime educator and coach in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“The ride had to be something challenging; it had to be something monumental,” said Wyatt, who will be riding approximately 70 miles per day.
Wyatt wants bring attention to both universities. He and Zamastil have their MSU Texas cycling gear ready to go as well as a checklist for backup bicycle parts. The journey will be a challenge for man and machine, and Wyatt hopes the communities will take notice and donate.
“My main purpose is the more people we can get exposed to this the more donations we can get,” Wyatt said. “The connection is strong. I wouldn’t be where I am today at Midwestern State without my education at UNC. And part of that education came from (Dr.) Carol Schneider, who started the cancer rehab institute. I wanted to connect the universities through exercise physiology. And obviously the first one I contacted about it was Darrell’s wife, Lisa, and she was on board with it.”
Life is not always a direct path, especially when obstacles like cancer strike a family, and as Zamastil said, “There’s no one in the world who has not been touched by cancer. I can’t think of a more worthy cause and it ties into my strengths.” This trip won’t be a straight line, either, to Greeley, Colorado. There will be an important stop in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where Seward and Wyatt attended high school together. The old building still exists, and Wyatt said there is a memorial planned June 22 for Seward, who passed away last November. “And we’ll play some Eagles music,” Wyatt said. “He married late in life and would always come to visit me wherever I was. I remember my son’s first rock concert was going with us to see the Eagles.”
Physically, it may seem like Wyatt, who is in his 60s, and Zamastil, in his 30s, are compiling their own version of the Eagles’ “Take It To the Limit” (a famous 1975 release). Wyatt said he made a cycling trip from Colorado all the way to Canada, for a total of 61 days, but that journey was in 1982.
“Someone suggested a golf tournament but that’s not me,” Wyatt said. “It had to be a challenge. I’m definitely putting in more miles to prepare. I ride pretty much on a daily basis but the mileage has to go up. Every day now I’m putting in a few more miles and then right before we leave I’ll taper down.”
Other ways Wyatt believes Darrell’s Ride is important is to raise awareness of the two universities, and to highlight the importance of steady exercise for those battling cancer. Wyatt and Zamastil will also be able to share data about diet and exercise in a personal way going forward.
“We got one guy in his 30s and one in his 60s,” Wyatt said. “How is it affecting us? How many calories are we taking in?”
“We’ll keep a log of our heart rate and I know how many calories I’m burning,” Zamastil said. “As a coach it’ll definitely help me.”
Speaking of heart, Wyatt said he’s been touched by being asked to carry 11 different names with him in honor of cancer survivors or memories of those who fought the battle with him. “These are people who reached out and like what we’re doing. Like Charlie said, everyone has been touched by cancer.”
And Wyatt hopes bringing attention to the battle will benefit others facing cancer and the UNC rehab center he fully believes in. And along the way he will preserve the memory of a great friend.
QUITE A CLIMB
The elevation in Wichita Falls is listed at 948 feet. For Greeley, Colorado, the finish of the ride it will be 4,675 feet. “But it’s a gradual climb and coming in the east side (of Colorado) we’re not climbing any mountains,” Wyatt said.
MORE THE MERRIER
The duo is expecting local Wichita Falls riders to join in the send-off June 19 and then a cycling group from Stillwater, Oklahoma will follow Wyatt and Zamastil for a few miles when they depart Stillwater.
SHAVE IT OFF
Before the bicycles take off, the hair is coming off for Wyatt and Zamastil. Wyatt has planned a ceremonial head shaving event to be held at MSU’s Legacy Hall. “We’re going to shave our heads in solidarity,” Wyatt said. “A lot of my students live in Legacy, and I’m going to give them a shot at swiping on my head with a razor.”
HOW TO DONATE
To help sponsor Darrell’s Ride mail a check payable to MSU Cycling and write “Darrell’s Ride” on the memo line. MSU Cycling, University Development, Midwestern State University, 3410 Taft Blvd, Wichita Falls, TX 76308.
HOW TO FOLLOW
A Facebook page dedicated to Darrell’s Ride will feature frequent updates during the journey, which is set to begin June 19 in Wichita Falls and be completed around July 1 in Greeley, Colorado.