levi Leipheimer to ride to benefit 3-year-old cancer patient

PRESS RELEASE: SANTA ROSA, Calif. — This summer, there’ll be another name on the bicycle of 3-time Amgen Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer. As part of the “I Ride For” effort sponsored by LIVESTRONG and Trek Bicycle, Leipheimer and other Team RadioShack riders will get the chance to ride for someone whose life was forever changed by cancer.

PRESS RELEASE

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — This summer, there’ll be another name on the bicycle of 3-time Amgen Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer. As part of the “I Ride For” effort sponsored by LIVESTRONG and Trek Bicycle, Leipheimer and other Team RadioShack riders will get the chance to ride for someone whose life was forever changed by cancer. In Leipheimer’s case, he found the story of Nate Wagner to best represent the courage and strength needed to battle cancer, even if that courage and strength had to come from a 3-year-old boy.

Nate was diagnosed with pineoblastomas, a rare and aggressive brain cancer that afflicts less than 2% of all juvenile brain cancer patients, in March of this year. Prior to this diagnosis, he was a vibrant, outgoing young boy who played and laughed as much as any other 3-year-old would. In February, he began exhibiting symptoms of vomiting, fatigue, and loss of motor control before a formal diagnosis was made. Medical specialists had to move swiftly to remove a tumor the size of a golf ball from his small brain. While the nine and a half hour surgery was considered a success, Nate will have to continue chemotherapy until nearly his fifth birthday.

“Riding for Nate was a natural match for me. His story is really touching, his family is strong, and he’s a great example of the importance of understanding cancer at all ages and for all people,” says Leipheimer. “I like to think of this a natural extension of what we’re trying to do with our GranFondo event: not only help bring the Tour of California back to Santa Rosa, but also to invest and support children at risk in our community.”

Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo is looking forward to increasing its philanthropic role as it adds charities that serve at-risk and underserved children in Levi’s local Santa Rosa community. With 6,000 total riders possible for the 2010 event as well as the opportunities for individual fundraising, the charitable achievements are very promising. Become part of the event at www.levisgranfondo.com and experience the beauty of Sonoma County in one of North America’s largest cycling events.

Medical expenses continue to mount for the Wagner family. While insurance covers some costs, many others are not. Those wishing to donate to Nate Wagner’s trust fund can e-mail Nate’s grandmother, Marilyn Forgie, at marilyn352@verizon.net .

LIVESTRONG and Trek Bicycle’s “I Ride For” effort will eventually be extended to non-professional riders as well, giving this opportunity to raise cancer awareness to cyclists worldwide. More information on the program can be found at www.trekbikes.com/unity .

About Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo

Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo is a fully supported bicycle ride with 35, 65, and 103-mile route options through some of the finest cycling country in the USA. The range of riders is recreational to pro, and the pace varies from leisurely to very fast. The ride is owned by VeloStreet and produced by Bike Monkey with Levi Leipheimer as the patron. The ride is organized with the collaboration and support of the City of Santa Rosa as well as communities and fire departments around Sonoma County.