More than 30 campgrounds, RV parks and resorts affiliated with the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) are providing free campsites and cabin accommodations to help support Andrew Ratzlaff, a 27-year-old New York City man who is bicycling across the country to raise awareness about lymphoma, a form of cancer, according to a news release.
“We think it’s the right thing to do,” said ARVC President and CEO Linda Profaizer, adding that Kera Tomlin, ARVC’s marketing and communications director, along with Jeanette Stensgaard, marketing and communications specialist, have been contacting parks along Andrew’s route to coordinate his overnight stays.
Andrew began his 4,400-mile cross-country bike ride on Mother’s Day and expects to reach San Francisco sometime in mid-July. He spent his first night in a rental unit at Pleasant Acres Farm Campground in Sussex County, N.J.
“We always try to help out where we can, and this is an easy thing for us to do,” Pleasant Acres Farm Campground owner Richard Denman told the New Jersey Herald in a story published earlier this week.
Barb Wieand, who owns WT Family Camping in Blakeslee, Penn., said she planned to greet with Andrew with a hot meal upon his arrival on May 11, adding that the area was expecting a late freeze based on local radio reports.
Even parks that are not directly on Andrew’s path have responded to his call for support for the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
Two California parks, Novoto RV Park in Novato and Vineyard RV Park in Vacaville, are each donating $2 to the Lymphoma Research Foundation for every night’s stay paid by their overnight guests during the month of May. “We feel very strongly about LRF’s mission and felt this was the best way for us to support Andrew’s ride given that we could not provide him accommodations at either of our parks,” said park owner Meaghan Bertram.
Andrew, for his part, is a fine-arts major who fell in love with bicycling while studying for his degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder, one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. And before embarking on his cross-country trip, he was biking to work every day — in his case, from an apartment in Manhattan’s Upper East Side to Rockefeller Center, where he works as a freelance video editor for a local television station.
In many respects, Andrew has been living his dream, biking to work each day in the biggest television market in the country. But he’s also confident enough to take several weeks off work to raise awareness and support for the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
“I just found out the Lymphoma Research Foundation recently,” he said, adding that he lost his father to lymphoma 10 years ago while he was a senior in high school.
In addition to funding research to develop better treatment options and ultimately a cure for lymphoma, the foundation provides a helpline and national support network that connects patients and families with volunteers that have experience with the same type of lymphoma as well as the various treatments and challenges associated with lymphoma, a form of blood cancer that can develop in the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow and other body organs.
Andrew said his family would have taken advantage of the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s services 10 years ago if they had known they existed. “In nine months, we watched my Dad basically fall apart,” he said. “That was the hardest thing for me and my family.”
But Andrew said he is impressed with the work the foundation has done and the support its volunteers provide to families with loved ones who are suffering from lymphoma.
“After doing some research and talking with them, I found them to be a valuable organization that I am proud to support and discuss,” Andrew said, adding that more people could benefit from the foundation’s work if it were better known and had more funding. “So I’m doing my part to help them,” he said.
To follow Andrew’s route, please visit www.GoCampingAmerica.com, which has a section devoted to his trip that highlights some of the campgrounds he will be visiting along his journey as well as his blog site at www.arideagainstlymphoma.blogspot.com.
For more information about the Lymphoma Research Foundation and its work, please visit www.lymphoma.org.