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Derek Buckridge of Spring Hill rode 309 miles in June, raising $5,324 for children’s cancer research in the Great Cycle Challenge. He was the top fundraiser in Kansas and ranked 60th in the country.

SPRING HILL — Derek Buckridge set out on a quest this June to ride like he had never ridden before for a cause near and dear to his heart.

Buckridge lost both of his grandfathers to cancer.

There are many studies to fight cancers that strike adults. What Buckridge found out, however, is there is not as much attention on cancers that strike children.

One mile at a time, Buckridge set out to change that.

Buckridge set a goal of 300 miles and $5,000 for the Great Cycling Challenge USA, raising not only money, but awareness for children’s cancer research.

He topped both goals, riding 309 miles to raise $5,324.

This is the fifth year for the ride and third time for Buckridge. In just four years more than 153,000 cyclists from 50 states have ridden more than 12 million miles, raising more than $16 million for research and better development of treatments for childhood cancer.

In three years, Buckridge had ridden 1,035 miles in the Great Cycle Challenge USA, raising $14,965.

“Now that the smoke has cleared and life has ‘slowed down,’ I want to take a minute to thank each and every one of you,” Buckridge said. “To the donors, the support and the people sharing their story, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to make a difference. Without you all this challenge would not be possible.

“So, here is to three years and almost $15,000 raised for children’s cancer,” he said. “We rocked the goal this year and I fought for the miles. You are changing lives.”

This year the Great Cycle Challenge USA had more than 50,000 riders looking to raise more than $8.2 million.

He was the No. 1 rider in Kansas this year and ranked 60th in the nation.

More than 150,000 children in America are diagnosed with cancer every year. Thirty-eight children die every week, said John Hallberg, chief executive officer at Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

“Thanks to riders like Derek, we are fueling groundbreaking research to save lives and give kids the brighter future they deserve.”

Buckridge played football, basketball and baseball for the Spring Hill Broncos.

He found cycling a few years ago and has competed in endurance challenges in Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Arkansas and Kansas.

While a student at Spring Hill High School, Buckridge was challenged to do more, to think of others and give back with his time, his effort and his talent by teacher Lynda Jochims.

“She instilled in me that volunteering and giving back is the way to a better life for everyone,” Buckridge said. “She led our volunteering club in high school. By giving back, she said we could change the world.

“I urge everyone to find a way to give back,” he said. “Whether it is picking up trash in your community, running a 5K race or just sharing someone’s story. We make the change. It starts with us.”

Jochims said it is touching to see her words have an impact on a student’s life.

“You make my heart proud,” Jochims wrote on Buckridge’s Facebook page about the ride.

Buckridge works for MTD Electric in Spring Hill.

The business has been very supportive of the Great Cycle Challenge USA and Derek’s schedule in June. The business has also matched fundraising efforts by Buckridge and challenged other businesses to do the same.

Buckridge was named one of the Great Cycle Challenge USA Heroes for this season.

“I was honored to be named one of the heroes,” Buckridge said. “There are 75,000 riders and less than 100 are selected for this honor.

“The kids’ cancers are not getting the attention, money and research that adult cancers are,” he said. “This ride is not just about raising money for children’s cancer research, it is about raising awareness.”

Derek and Mariah Buckridge have a son named Kale.

To learn more about Derek’s Great Cycle Challenge USA, go to greatcyclechallenge.com.

Sports Editor Gene Morris can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or gene.morris@miconews.com.

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