For Bob Lee, things comes in threes: three bike rides around the country, three reasons, three generations.
Lee, 70, of Barrington, Ill., stopped in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach last week on his way from Vancouver, Canada, to the U.S.-Mexico border.
In 2001, he rode 3,254 miles across the southern border of the U.S., and in 2007, he rode 6,500 miles up the East Coast and across the northern border, raising nearly $390,000. In total, he's completed more than 12,000 miles around the country's perimeter.
On all three rides, he worked toward raising money for cancer research, ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease — and hospice care as he rode his Co-Motion touring bicycle. His goal this time is $1 million.
"I'm very fortunate to be able to do this for three good reasons," he said. "Cancer affects almost everyone, and ALS is the most brutal disease anyone can be diagnosed with. Also, everyone needs hospice care."
Part of Lee's inspiration was his own experience with cancer, he said.
He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003, but it was caught early and treated immediately. In 2010 his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was also caught and treated early.
Lee stopped in Huntington Oct. 23 to visit his friend Bill Raymond, 74, a prostate cancer patient who also suffers from ALS and is undergoing hospice care.
Barbara Raymond, Bill's wife, called Lee a "miraculous" person.
"Over the years, Bob has met many people with cancer, ALS or in hospice care, and he's touched so many lives," she said. "Bill is one of those people who Bob has touched."
Lee said that he has enjoyed the company of everyone he has met during his three rides.
"I think one of the biggest things that surprises people is I've ridden now close to 12,000 miles around the perimeter of the country and I've never met a negative person," he said. "What this has done is connect me to wonderful people."
As Lee made his journey, family members, like daughter Laura Horak, 45, and grandson Ryan Horak, 15, joined him along the way.
"It's nice that this is three generations working for three reasons," Lee said.
Laura Horak finished the ride with her father from Los Angeles to Mexico to San Diego.
"It's been very emotional and an honor to finish this ride off with him," she said. "We feel so proud and relieved that he did it. Sometimes you don't realize how emotional or worried you are about something. It's a crazy accomplishment."
She also said that she felt inspired by her dad at the ride's end.
"When you're around him, you can't help but want to do something good for others and want to be better and take on new challenges," she said. "We had to ride over this really big hill outside of San Diego, and riding up it was very emotional. It was literally the last big hill of his climb, but figuratively too. I joked with him that he was now over the hill."
As of Monday, Lee has raised about $583,000. He is taking donations until Dec. 15.
Lee said that for every $1 donated, the Pacesetter Fund will donate an additional $2.
For more information about Lee and to donate, visit 3reasons.org.
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