The Ones You’re With

For most of my life my parents have strived for me to be “cultured.” Many a trip were taken to Chicago’s cultural institutions. One of the most common activities was a trip to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In their programs, they always feature 3 or 4 musicians with a list of short answers to interview questions. One of the questions is invariably along the lines of “What do you like most about playing with the CSO?” and the answer is invariably along the lines of “I love being able to make music with such talented and passionate people.”

Two nights ago in Baltimore, we got to meet Rafi, a two-time rider for the 4K for Cancer, a group formerly of Johns Hopkins University that is now independent that I4K has taken after. After some standard cycling advice, Rafi asked us all to share a little about ourselves: our name, an interesting fact, and what motivated us to sign up for the Illini 4000. For as much time as we’ve spent with each other, I had not ever really heard anyone’s story for how they became involved. The answers blew me away.

Many riders shared how a close family member, such as a mother, a grandfather, or a sister, had passed away from cancer. Many shared the current struggle of a loved one fighting the disease. Each person was touched by cancer in a very personal way, and hearing each person’s story unraveled them to me in different ways. My perception of each person’s context in the organization was so much more meaningful: we were all here to fight.

As we geared up the next morning to ride, I was reminded of those CSO Q&A’s. I am awestruck at the dedication of my fellow riders and their passion for everything that the Illini 4000 stands for. I couldn’t help but to feel so lucky and so proud that I am a part of a group of such amazing, motivated, and passionate people that are fighting the good fight. Our work is at least as prestigious as any CSO musician’s. We are here because we want to end the suffering that cancer causes; we are here to fight.

Comments (3)
  • Bob Shaevel says:

    I am very proud that you are carrying on the fight against the disease that took Grandma Shirley, your grandpa Hen before you were born and reached out to get me and Peachy, but missed. Every rotation of those pedals is a victory.

  • Evelyn Shaevel says:

    Really loved your post Kenny! As someone who has been called “cultured” and has shared that with you–but more relavant to your project this summer, as a cancer survivor myself and a daughter who watched her mother (your Grandmother) fight a valiant and ultimately loosing 10-year battle with breast cancer, I am personally grateful to see you learning about what one goes through in facing this disease and in helping to raise awareness as well as fight the fight against cancer with the other Illini 4K riders. Keep up the good work Kenny. Aunt Peachy

  • Lois Shaevel says:

    I’m proud of you for making the decision to sign up for and train for this ride, but even more so for the motivation behind it for you and the other riders. I’d like to thank you and your team for what you’re doing.
    Aunt Lois

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