September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. This year, the Children’s Cancer Research Fund is hosting the annual Great Cycle Challenge during this month.

The Great Cycle Challenge is a virtual fundraiser. Bicyclists pledge miles that they will ride for then entire month and raise money based on how much they ride.

The fundraising is done online. The bicyclist sets up a personal website by visiting greatcyclechallenge.com. The website is user friendly, which makes setting up the website fairly simple and easy.

Locally, Joel Fields is participating for his third year. Thus far, he has raised $578. Overall, he has raised over $1,000 in the three years he has participated.

Through this event, he joined the Northeast Indiana Rider Group that he rides with. Unfortunately, there is no one to ride with locally so he goes to New Haven to join his group for rides.

He uses a fixed gear bike. It rides differently than typical bikes; it doesn’t coast. He prefers it he says, because “its like you become one with your bike; its cool.”

Combined with his love of riding and his passion for helping find a cure for, not only childhood cancers, but also adult cancers, fuels his motivation to ride and participate in this event.

He has pledged to ride 200 miles for the event.

His passion to find a cure was ignited when his friend, Dustin Shuherk, and his aunt were diagnosed with cancer. The fire burns even greater now. He currently works at Parkview Cancer Institute and sees the children that come for treatment.

“All the sweat and what I go through when I ride is nothing compared to what they go through,” he said with compassion.

He started riding 10 years ago when he lived in Denver. To him, bicycling is the best form of exercise. “No one is sad on a bike - everyone is always smiling,” he said with a grin.

Being a huge Harry Potter fan, he didn’t miss an opportunity to reference the movie while talking about biking. “Bike riding is the closest thing to riding a broomstick in the Harry Potter world,” he said.

His hope is to have more local participants. He encourages everyone to visit the website and check out the fundraising opportunity.

If there is anyone that cannot participate, but is willing to donate, Fields’ website is: greatcyclechallenge.com/riders/joelfields. On Sept. 9 the Children’s Cancer Research Fund is matching all donations.

Presently, he works at the Parkview Cancer Institute, but before COVID-19 he was a licensed massage therapist employed at Parkview. He is part of a the Holistic Response Team (Team Lavender) and they visit each unit and teach the nurses on staff how to de-stress.

He’s never been to New York City, but he did make it to its billboards. He raised $50 before Aug. 19 and “was able to get my photo on a billboard in New York’s Times Square.”

He stated that he was excited for the opportunity to share his story, “I kind of feel like a ghost,” he said. He hopes to reach many in Paulding County.

If you see him riding be sure to wave. He’s riding for a cause.