Bicycling across the country for two months is the easy part. Raising enough awareness to make a difference for an important cause is the difficult part.
That’s the sentiment Jacob Nelson is carrying as he continues his trip across the continental United States this summer to fundraise for pancreatic cancer research.
Nelson, a 31-year-old Marion resident and a school psychologist in the Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District, is seeking donations for the Lustgarten Foundation, a not-for-profit organization for the advancement of medical research related to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of pancreatic cancer.
“Across the board, it’s just a very deadly form of cancer,” Nelson said.
“It’s a form of cancer we’ve known about for a long time, but relative to how long we’ve known about it, the medical community has lagged behind other cancers in terms of how we can prevent it or how we can screen for it.”
Nelson will ride through Cedar Rapids on Tuesday for a fundraiser from 5 to 8 p.m. at Iowa Brewing Company, 708 Third St. SE. Each pitcher of beer sold will put $5 toward Nelson’s effort to fundraise for the Lustgarten Foundation.
Tuesday will mark the 25th day on the road for the Nelson, who began the more than 3,100-mile trip June 16 in Newport, Ore. He has been following U.S. Highway 20 for the better part of his route.
The cross-country trip will end in Atlantic City, N.J., probably by July 26.
By then, he’s hoping to donate $10,000 to the Lustgarten Foundation. As of Friday, he has raised nearly $5,374.
Donations are not being used for his travel expenses, Nelson said.
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“As crazy as this might sound, riding is the easy part,” he said. “Getting out there and spreading the word and hopefully drumming up donations has been the harder part …. Whereas riding a bicycle, you just hop on and go.”
Nelson had been planning a long-distance bike ride — which he was introduced to during RAGBRAI 2013 — but felt it was better to do the ride for a cause.
Nelson, a native of Dixon, Ill., said an individual named Eddie Ryan died of pancreatic cancer in February in his hometown. He didn’t know Ryan well, but the death “caused a ripple effect” with his friends and loved ones back home.
“Unfortunately, it took his passing to make me think this is a cause I would want to raise for,” Nelson said.
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l To learn more about the Lustgarten Foundation, visit lustgarten.org.