A retired Florida Highway Patrol officer returned to Jacksonville Beach on Tuesday after a 5,000-mile bike ride from Western Canada, through California and across the United States to support children’s cancer research.
Lt. Jose Medina kept a log of his travels. He said it had been 147 days since he left Vancouver and 70 days since he left San Diego before arriving at Jacksonville Beach.
“It feels awesome. Would I do it again? Probably not. I’ll have to make a different route,” Medina said.
He gave credit to the support that he had on this long journey.
“I wouldn’t have been able to make it without all the support that I had, even the support through social media. That makes a big difference also,” Medina said.
Medina talked about the reason why he went on the long bike ride.
“We did this to bring awareness to pediatric cancer. We spent the first three months on the road raising funds for the Great Cycle Challenge’s fundraiser for children’s cancer research,” Medina said.
Medina had a police escort from the FHP building to the lifeguard station at Jacksonville Beach for the final 23 miles of his ride.
“When I arrived at the station, it overwhelmed me and they were supporting me throughout this ride. It was awesome to see them in person,” Medina said.
Medina rode with a team called “Joe Strong”. The team is the Jacksonville-based fundraiser for children’s cancer research.
Ricardo Andreu, a team member said that Joe was a local kid who lost his battle with cancer at the age of nine.
“Joe fought a very aggressive cancer battle for nine months which inspired my riding and the creation of the ‘Joe Strong’ team,” Andreu said.
He also said that the federal government only invests 4% of its annual cancer research budget in pediatric cancer research and the Joe Strong team is trying to bridge that gap by raising money of their own.
“It’s more about [the kids] inspiring us than us inspiring them. Their tenacity and grit [is inspiring] because all they do is fight for their lives every day. That motivates us to go out on the road and bare the elements,” Andreu said.
Medina said he is glad to be back home because one of the challenges was finding somewhere to sleep. He would rest at hotels or pitch a tent outside.
He also said the bike is totaled and it can’t be used for another long ride like that again. He said he plans to hang it up somewhere.