Monday, December 1, 2008

Team Fat Cyclist: Win Susan!

Does the full-zip jersey make me look fat? I hope so.

I've mentioned Elden Nelson, the Fat Cyclist before, but now's the time to talk a little more about what he's done for me and the rest of the world, and what I'm trying to give back to him, by giving back to the rest of the world. And what you can do to help.

The Fat Cyclist is one of the best blogs on the internet, hands down. Yes, it's a little more personal if you like bicycling, or if you have some sort of capacity for human emotion, but even if not, you'll laugh your coffee out your nose at "An Open Letter to Assos" and its follow-up, "The Wit and Wisdom of Dr. Michael Lämmler". If the screamingly funny posts don't get you, then he gives away some really cool bike stuff in contests and drawings every now and then and you're hooked. And if you follow the posts, you'll cry as I did when you read that Susan, Elden's wife, has had a relapse of her breast cancer, and it has metastasized to her brain, with thousands of tiny tumors like dandelion seeds in her brain.

I've commented occasionally that TV shows are for people who don't have interesting, or attractive, or funny friends, but the thing about the internet is that you can actually get to be friends with interesting, funny, smart, attractive, hard working, wonderful people. And I consider Elden to be my friend (it says we are, right there on Facebook!). He's the sort of friend you want to be more like; not perfect (we all have our moments. And jeez, he serves brats with no beer.) but when I read his writing, he makes me want to be a better person, a better dad, a better husband. Like another big brother. Because, after all, it doesn't really matter what kind of a cyclist you are.

So we (the internet) try to 'be there' for Susan and Elden and the kids, and those of us who are in Utah can come over with dinner, and help clean the house and the like. But when Elden says, "This is helpful," and it's something we can do--we jump. Seriously, he could say, "I really need you all to send me your toenail clippings," and he'd be able to open a glue factory in a week. And so he's put together a fundraising team for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (did I mention Elden's a bicyclist?), and he asked for team members to create the largest, most successful fundraising team in the history of the event. I jumped. And jumped in for the Seattle ride, on June 21--it seemed only appropriate, in that the other person I look up to like him is my brother, that I go ride in his town. (By the way, brother Wombat, can I sleep on your sofa?)

In our family we know something about cancer from a couple of different sides: Dr. Fledermaus's family tree has a terrifying streak running through it (thankfully, late-arriving, slow-moving, and excisable), and Dr. Fledermaus herself has a Ph.D. studying the disease. One thing I'm learning too well is that I'm now at the age when my cohort of friends is starting to develop cancer. Three good friends, all with kids, have been diagnosed in the past two years, with varying prognoses. But one thing I didn't know was the range of things that the Armstrong Foundation does. Yes, they support research (amen!) and treatment, but they also provide a huge range of services to cancer patients and their families. They provide personal guidance, counseling, really, in a way that all the books and brochures and even doctors can't.

All of which is to say, I'm asking now, and I'll probably ask again sometime before June, for you to chip in a few bucks by clicking here. In return, I'll ride a hundred miles with your names on my back, and if any of you can come to Seattle, too, I'll grill brats for you according to Elden's recipe (ok, I use the same recipe). We'll have a send-off grill in Chicago, too (where we know a thing or two about bratwurst).

And if I win anything, I'll share like Bat Jr., and try to gloat humorously.

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