BOSTON - It's often a long and frustrating waiting game for people in need of bone marrow or stem cell transplants.
Bob Falkenberg, who survived leukemia, found his match through the "Be The Match" program.
He was part of a small group of cyclists who rolled up to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Monday morning, preparing to pedal to Plymouth.
The group was being led on this second leg of a ride down the East Coast by Falkenberg, who went through a bone marrow stem cell transplant 13 years ago. He says he started riding and fundraising 19 months later.
"When I was going through that I said, 'If I survive this' which was at that point about a 15% chance, that I would do whatever I could to help other patients that are going through the same thing," he told WBZ-TV.
He came up with what they call the Tour de TC where Falkenberg, along with other transplant recipients, donors and family members log hundreds of miles while stopping at transplant centers along the way. It helps them raise money and awareness about Be The Match, which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program.
"I being white and of European descent had 13 matches on the registry. If you're Black your chance of finding a single donor on the registry right now is only 29% because there just aren't enough Black donors on the registry, the same goes for Hispanic and Asian and Native American," Falkenberg said.
"By raising awareness we hope to get more donors of varied backgrounds into the registry so that we can increase our ability to find matches for everybody," said Corey Cutler of Dana-Farber.
Falkenberg and his fellow cyclists are also hoping to serve as an inspiration for patients going through the transplant process.
"There are going to be hard days, just like there are hard days riding the past couple weeks, you can get through them and it's better on the other side," said rider Elle Crofton.
The route will take the cyclists from Dana Farber to Plymouth and a pit stop on the Cape. Ultimately, they will finish this leg on July 27 by the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia.
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