Velogal's Blog

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Here’s the cycling version of the Grinch who stole Xmas - a news story about some super-mean thieves who stole a bike from a breast-cancer survivor. Anybody have any contacts with Cannondale people who might want to help Gail Brantley? The bike was a R800 Cannondale, Frame Size 47, Frame Type Road and Wheel Size 650... A friend of mine and the LAF, Branan, is trying to get help for this woman. If you can help, email me and I’ll put you in contact....

Here’s the news article from The Herald Sun, in Durham , NC:

Theft of Cancer Survivor's Bike Like Losing an Old Friend

Nov 2, 2005 : 9:51 pm ET
DURHAM -- Gail Brantley is one tough woman. A survivor. But she finds herself inconsolable over the loss of what was -- to the unenlightened eye -- an old two-wheeled contraption with a lot of miles on its tubular frame.

The bicycle that was stolen from her was not an ordinary pedal-powered vehicle. It was a companion down paved streets and highways and, in an intimately symbolic way, across her rocky road to a rejuvenated life.

Ten years after surviving breast cancer, Brantley decided to take part in a bicycle ride in August 2001 to celebrate her life and raise money for cancer research.

She rode her bicycle for 92 miles in seven hours at the 22nd Pan-Mass Challenge in Boston. The annual bike ride to raise money for cancer research is sponsored by the Dana-Farber Institute's Jimmy Fund. Brantley raised $10,000 in the process.

The Cannondale bicycle, valued at $2,500, had white labels with black lettering of the names of 50 cancer survivors, some of whom later died.

Brantley, 60, the N.C. Board of Pharmacy financial/administrative services director, kept that bicycle and the sentimental value in which it was encased in a storage area at her Willowhaven neighborhood home.

But about 6 p.m. Oct. 25 she was devastated to find it had been stolen.
"I was very emotional and upset," Brantley said. "I thought I had quite an accomplishment with the bike. What that bike means to me it can't mean that to anybody else."

Maj. Lucy Zastrow of the Durham County Sheriff's Office said investigations into the bicycle's theft are ongoing on and that investigators have several leads.

She also said that the bicycle was stolen at the same time there were several break-ins reported in the Willowhaven neighborhood. Zastrow said theft of bicycles is a common crime in Durham, often because owners leave them outside without chaining them up.

"We get bicycles stolen every day," Zastrow said. Brantley understandably wants her bicycle back. And not just because of its cash value or because it was tailor-adjusted to suit her riding needs. Rather, it represents her personal struggle to overcome and offers memories of cancer-afflicted friends whose fight for life has drawn to an end.

If the thieves cannot find it in their hearts to return the bicycle, she said, she hopes they put their ill-gotten gain to good use. "It will be nice if they will contribute the proceeds that they will get from the sale of the bike to breast cancer research," Brantley said.

Rachel Paris, a cancer survivor whose name was one of the 50 on the bicycle, said she was saddened to hear that the bicycle was stolen. "It was more than a bicycle," Paris said. "It had a lot of meaning behind it." Paris said the people who stole the bicycle should be ashamed of themselves.

The theft will not deter Brantley from taking part in the Pan-Mass Challenge to raise money for cancer research next year. But it is looking more and more like she will have to buy a new bicycle to participate.


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