Cancer-stricken Arizona cyclist buys bike for family in need

Rob Nickerson (Team Vitesse) knows what it’s like to suffer.

The 41-year-old time trialist and mountain biker is used to challenges on the bike, but he entered a different kind of pain cave this fall when he contracted throat cancer.

So far Nickerson has lost 12 pounds, the use of his taste buds and the ability to ride.

But when he saw a Clipped In Facebook post asking for help in providing bikes to a family with cancer-afflicted children, Nickerson took action and purchased a bike for the family.

“Every kid should have a bike regardless of if they have cancer,” Nickerson said. “I’m glad I could help contribute in a small way.”

Nickerson’s “small” contribution will make a big impact on a large family struggling to make ends meet and enjoy the holidays.

Of the family’s eight children, the youngest has cancer. Their 2-year-old son is battling liver cancer and is undergoing treatment; two siblings also have medical issues.

Local bike shops contribute, reception today

The Children’s Cancer Network and Clipped In partnered to find bikes for each child, and an outpouring of support from local bike shops and organizations around the state contributed to fill the need.

Absolute BikesGlobal BikesLandis Cyclery, the Pedal Bike ShopState Bicycle Co. and Trips for Kids all contributed bikes for a range of ages for the family. Strada Racing Club reached out to Clipped In to rally the cycling community.

Today at 11:30 a.m., each child of the family will receive a bike during a reception at the Children’s Cancer Network resource center at 6150 W. Chandler Blvd. in Chandler.

Nickerson’s battle

The week before Christmas, six bikes had been donated, but the family still needed two more. Nickerson, who is in the middle of a seven-week chemotherapy treatment, saw the post and asked how he could help.

He purchased a bike from his local shop, Global Bikes, and reached out to Brandee Lepak, an Ahwatukee cyclist who runs Trips for Kids, a nonprofit that provides cycling opportunities for at-risk youth. Lepak and her organization purchased a bike to donate to the family as well.

“Children’s Cancer Network is thrilled at the outpouring of love and support for this holiday season,” said Patti Luttrell, the network’s executive director. “Thanks to the hard work of Clipped In, Strada Racing Club and bike shops and the Arizona cycling community, this family and others will have a holiday to remember and one that will last for years to come as they bike together.”

Nickerson, who has tonsil and base-of-tongue cancer, came through when the family needed it the most. Nickerson said he knows what it’s like to have a support system.

“I have an amazing network of family and friends that are pulling together, but by far all the burden is falling on my wife, Christina Bannerman,” he said. “She puts up with everything and takes me everywhere.”

Nickerson said his prognosis is “good and they think [the radiation] will get it.” He said his fitness on the bike helped going into battle with cancer.

“It’s really going to help,” Nickerson said. “I can’t imagine being out of shape and starting it.”

When he beats cancer, Nickerson said he plans to get into shape for summer time trials, and for his first ride back he plans to go on the Sunday Vitesse Around the Mountain group ride.

“It would be great to see all my team,” Nickerson said.

Special thanks to LeeAnn Land (Strada Racing) for bringing awareness to this cause.