Lane Myers, a graduate of Madison Central High School and the University of Alabama, is the Mississippi task force leader for the Ride for Kids Mississippi benefitting the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. He recently spoke with Sun staff writer Nikki Rowell about the work of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and his own battle with the disease.
I understand that you have a personal connection to this cause. Could you tell me about your personal battle with a pediatric brain tumor?
“When I was seven, I was struggling in school and having severe headaches and nausea. I had an MRI and was diagnosed with a tumor on my pituitary gland. I went to Batson and had it removed then went to St. Jude for six months of radiation. Then, two years later, my sister was diagnosed with a tumor on her spinal cord.”
When did you first get involved with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation?
“They’ve been having rides for 35 years, and there used to be a ride in Birmingham and a few patients from here – we call them our stars – that decided to have a ride here. They had me as their featured speaker for the third ride, and two years ago I became the task force leader.”
What are your responsibilities as task force leader?
“I coordinate our task force, which is about 10 to 12 dedicated volunteers. We get sponsorships throughout the year and host fundraisers and volunteer outreach. I do a little bit of everything really.”
What does it mean to you to be able to give back in this capacity after your own battle with this?
“It means a lot. It’s one of the deadliest childhood cancers, so being one of those success stories and being in the position where I can give back is huge. I think it would be wrong for me not to do something like this and help the kids who are in the same position I was in 20 years ago.”
What is the mission of the foundation?
“The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation mostly supplies research grants to hospital groups that are currently researching pediatric brain tumors. They also provide familial resources, brochures. We actually recently got a butterfly fund set up for assistance for family hotel rooms, to get them stuff they need outside of treatment that they might need while they’re here. It’s mostly for research. They’re the largest non-government research fund in the United States.”
How much does the event raise annually for this cause?
“Over the last five years, we’ve raised over $200,000. It is more every year. Last year, we raised almost $50,000.”
How many people are diagnosed with pediatric brain tumors?
“On average, 13 kids a day are diagnosed. We actually have a large amount here in Mississippi that are diagnosed.
We’ve got seven kids that are currently undergoing treatment for Pediatric Brain Tumors that are participating in the ride this year. It kind of localizes in certain spots. They don’t really know what causes Pediatric Brain Tumors as far as whether it is environmental or partially genetic. We definitely have a large percentage, compared nationally, here in central Mississippi.”
Tell me about the Mississippi Ride for Kids. What can people who attend expect?
“Registration starts at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. We will have face painting. Inky the Clown is coming. We will have giveaways. We will have live music all day. Food is provided by Anjou restaurant of Ridgeland. Basically, it’s a family day attached to a bike ride.
The more money we can raise for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, the better. Kickstands will go up at 1:30 p.m. The event will end by 4 p.m.”
What are your goals for the event, both monetary and participation?
“The national headquarters set our goal at $37,000. I think we can blow that out of the water. We haven’t broken $50,000 in a single year. I’d love to be able to do that this year. We are the smallest market for a ride. Last year, out of 28 rides nationally, we raised the 13th most. I think if we did that well, we can only go up.
As for the event, I just want our stars to have a good time. We had a star that described it one year as a day that he forgot he had cancer, and that’s an awesome thing to hear. I know that’s something I always wanted when I was going through treatment. Money is important, but if I can help someone have an experience like that then that’s all I want to do.”
If someone wanted to donate to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, what would be the best way to do so?
“Come to the ride. We will have a fundraising team there to help with that.”