In February 2009, Bob Falkenberg was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He was treated with six months of chemotherapy. This was followed by a bone marrow stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor on October 27, 2009. In between treatments, Bob and his wife Karen, residents of Alpharetta, Ga., walked the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, which ultimately sparked Bob’s decision to take an active and energetic road to recovery.
“Cycling has been a huge part of my recovery. Ten months post transplant, I completed 100 miles at the Savannah Century with my friend Carl Kooyoomjian,” Bob said. “Quit and give up are not in my vocabulary. After all the chemo and my transplant in 2009, I had trouble just riding 10 miles, I am now in the best physical shape of my life.”
Just nine months after the Savannah Century, Bob and Carl took on an even greater cycling challenge. Joined by Bob’s daughter Katie, the three participated in an unsupported ride from Carl’s house in Beverly Farms, Mass. to Key West, Fla. – cycling 1,800 miles in 29 days! They were able to raise over $18,000 for cancer research.
In July 2012, Bob met his stem cell donor, a young man from Grand Rapids, Mich. who signed up at a Be The Match college drive years earlier. Today, Bob is a volunteer on the Leadership Council of Be The Match Southeast, which allowed him to create the Be The Match Cycling Challenge. In 2012, Bob rode a total of 5,000 miles for the cycling challenge, and as part of that, participated in the 24 Foundation of Atlanta.
Bob’s 2013 goal is to ride 6,000 miles, and the 202 miles he rode at the 24 Foundation in Charlotte last month is all part of that goal. At age 56, Bob is aiming to add another 200 miles to his record at 24 Foundation of Atlanta from October 5-6. He will ride again with Jay Gallagher’s team, Get in the Game: Save a Life.
“Some may think I am crazy but I believe that focus and determination can overcome many hurdles,” Bob said. “It took me 15 hours of riding to do the 202 miles (in Charlotte), I rode all night.”
Bob and his family have been greatly affected by cancer. His wife, Karen, is also a cancer survivor. Bob’s grandmother, mother, uncle, and Karen’s father all died from cancer.
“24 Foundation is a great way to honor and support those going through cancer treatment, to remember those we have lost, and to provide hope,” Bob said. “It is also a lot of fun for riders of all levels. It will be one of the most memorable 24 hours you have ever spent.”
Story by Lindsay Assenmacher, Peloton Sports Inc.