Click here to enjoy
the incredible closing ceremonies of the Games with a
1,000 people singing,
"Hey Jude"
Hello Again to everyone!
31 years ago I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when I couldn't remember the name of my 8 month-old son. The head of oncology at a prominent hospital told us that nothing could be done for me.

Well, on August 20th I competed in a 18 mile cycling race as part of the World Transplant Games in Newcastle upon Tyne, England!

Over the years people who have heard my story have told me that it has given them hope. I now share this new chapter, and the stories of others from the Games, to provide hope for anyone going through a medical crises.

Mike Aichenbaum, Executive Director
"People doing good because that is
the way we all want the world to be"
How did I get myself into this?
I've n ever raced on a bike in my life!

Athletes participating from 60 countries.
The U.K. team alone has 310 people--
the word is they had to compete to make the team!
(my story continues in the next orange box)
Who are the people attending and competing in the Games?

Patients ages 4-85 whom have had all sorts of transplants: skin, heart, kidney, lung, liver, bone marrow...some like myself from many years ago...others very recently...their support persons... and organ donors and family members:

Jean-Claude le Bourhis of France had a heart transplant in 2000.
He competed at age 85!!!
Cycling 5 kilometer time trial
Basketball--here U.S. vs Iran
United States swim team
Girls track
Boys track
Women's 5 kilometer walk
Men and Women's 5 kilometer race
I tried really hard to train really hard.
The World Transplant Games take place in a different location every two years,
most recently: Malaga, Spain, 2017; Mar Del Plata, Argentina, 2015;
Durban, South Africa 2013; Goteborg, Sweden, 2011.

I researched which course was most similar to the course
we would be cycling upon in Newcastle, i.e. flat, (pictured below).
The answer? South Africa.
I looked at the times.
22 miles per hour just to stay with the pack!!
My only chance would be to train for speed and hope I could latch on to draft!

But the weather was awful in Philadelphia!
It rained seemingly every day in the spring,
and July, the heat...
two weeks before we left for England the heat index was
106 degrees ... but I rode 30 miles that day !
(my story continues in the next orange box)
The people in Newcastle are known to be and were incredibly welcoming!
Like our HOSTS for HOSPITALS hosts!

One anecdote. Before my ride, my wife Ruth and I walked to the
'Seven Stories' Museum, a seven-floor center dedicated to children's literature.
We stopped for lunch at a nearby cafe, where another patron--
a 'Geordi', that is what people from Newcastle call themselves--
asked us where we were from. We told them Philadelphia and shared
I was here to compete in the Games. I mentioned that I needed to visit a bike store about two kilometers away and asked for directions.
Without hesitation he offered to drive me there!
I also saw this book at the museum, which I happened to open to this page,

"Hello," said Elmer. "What's the matter?"
"Hello," Kangaroo sniffed. "I can't jump.
When I try I fall over. We're going to have a jumping competition and I came here to practice, secretly. But it's no use. I can't jump. I'll be laughed at."

Welcoming strangers is the essence of HOSTS for HOSPITALS , so I had to buy
the book. In fact, everyone who conducts a 'Friend-to-Friend Appeal this fall will receive a copy to read with their kids/ grandkids/nieces/nephews/themselves!
If you are interested in doing or learning more about our 'Friend-to-Friend appeal click here or email or call: 484-380-2999.
The course IS NOT Flat, there will be MANY HILLS, and WIND!
As I was training back home everyone was telling me,
"It doesn't matter how you do, it's just enough to be able to participate."

But I was a distance runner back in high school,
I am a competitor, and to compete I know you have to go all out.

I'll be racing against 24 riders ages 60-85,
15 in my 60-69 age group,
9 of these serious riders from France, England and Ireland.

The day before my race I checked out the course and found out
it was just a 1.06 mile lap, repeated 17 times...
...with a 3/10 mile hill and a 2/10 mile incline on each lap!
Half the race will be uphill!!
With 12 mile-per-hour wind predicted as well!!!

I'm going to be like Elmer the kangaroo!!
I'll never be able to stick with anyone in my group...
(my story continues in the next orange box)
The spirit of the people at the games was so wonderful!

We all competed hard, but in encouragement of one another.
Politics had no place. In fact, one of the strongest bonds was between
the athletes respectively of the U.S. and Iranian teams!
Because, and I'm crying as I write this, we are talking about people,
like myself, who are only alive because someone literally
gave part of themselves to us.
U.K., U.S. and Ireland swimming
Hong Kong, China, Singapore badminton
U.K making a statement against Italy
U.S., U.K. and Italy basketball
And so my race began!
(click pictures to view videos)
The start was bottled up...
I pumped someone, startling him a bit,
we were at 23 mph and hit the first hill,
I kept my cadence and latched on to the front group of seven,
could I actually do this!?
We completed one lap and the second big hill...
I was hanging on. Each lap had a steep decline on the backstretch.
I was on the far right, pedaling hard for top speed...
when a big cyclist, I think from France, crowded my lane, oblivious to me...
I had to break sharply or would have gone over the side,
I lost contact with the lead group, never to be regained.
I had gone out as hard as I could,
and now it was time to pay the piper,
I wanted to rest, needed to rest,
but every 3 minutes I passed my wife Ruth, cheering me on, just as when I had my leukemia, (tears again as I write).

I gave maximum effort each time I came around,
focusing on passing other riders whom I had lapped.

Our team captain Tom Jenkins saved the day for me.
Tom was at the back of the pack at the start and had gotten off to a poor start.
A few laps in he passed me and I latched on to him, probably for a third of the race. Then he faltered and I passed him so he could draft me and regain his strength.
I pulled for one lap and then on the big hill one of the big guns passed us both.
Tom latched unto him, I tried but my muscles said to me, "Seriously!?"

I was actually the second rider to cross the finish line!

That is, a spry rider from Ireland passed me for the second time
just before he crossed the finish line!

In the end I came in thirteenth overall, eleventh in my age group.
(my story concludes in the next orange box)
The Serenity Prayer

Back when I had leukemia I was hospitalized for eight months.
After laying on my back for 3 months, without yet going into remission,
the 'serenity prayer' dawned upon me--
do what I could do, and accept what was beyond my control--
and life got a lot easier for me.
Pictured at right after the race are Gary Rosenbaum, Tom and myself.

Three years ago Gary had a heart transplant. Three days before our race, he texted that he started to "feel a little sore" in the back of his throat. The next day he shared the picture of himself and other athletes whom were being seen at a Newcastle hospital.
Gary was being assessed for a possible fever, something potentially of grave concern relative to his transplant.

Yet Gary simply wrote,
"It's one of those bumps in the road."

Gary turned out to be fine, competed in our race, and was gracious enough to allow me to finish in front of him!
A final word
Tom won the 70 and up age group. I told him that now that I know how to train,
when I'm 70 in six years I'll win that group because
"you'll be 76 then and I'm not going to let any 76 year-old beat me."

Tom responded, "I'm 76 now."

So in six years it won't matter how I do, it'll be just enough to be able to participate!

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