By Scott T. Sterling
Nine years ago, Tony Dean began riding the Young Survival Coalition’s 200-mile bike ride for his friend, Kristen, who was battling breast cancer.
Tony’s story is part of CBS Radio’s We Can Survive partnership with the Young Survival Coalition to raise awareness about breast cancer.
“I just called Kristen and telling her hysterically how amazing the ride was,” Dean remembers. “She was like, ‘I’m going to ride with you next year.’ Then we lost her in-between ‘I’m going to totally ride with you next year,’ and now you’re gone. It was definitely different that second year, but that’s when it all clicked in and changed.”
The 44-year-old never expected that the annual “Tour de Pink” would change his life forever.
“It became a part of who I am as a person, it’s really weird to say,” Dean reveals. “I really did grow up on this ride. I met my wife, we got engaged on this ride, I had my babies on this ride.”
Dean has honored his friend by giving his son, who was born on her birthday, the middle name Christian.
“He lives Kristen’s values every day of his life. It’s crazy, but the kid lives it,” he marvels. “I do believe that she’s resting in peace, I believe she made her mark, inspired change and left her legacy. I think Kristen is resting in peace and knows we got this.”
Tony is also aiding cancer research through his Pink Cans 4 Cancer initiative, which raises funds through recycling.
CBS Radio and Young Survival Coalition are once again raising awareness through their fifth annual We Can Survive concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
“There’s a quarter of a million women living in this country who were diagnosed before they were 40 and that’s a lot of young women,” explains Jennifer Merschdorf, CEO of YSC and breast cancer survivor.
“The hardest part is knowing that someone you love and care about may not be there next year,” stresses Dean. “So you appreciate every year, you ride as hard as you can.”