A Father’s Ride-Day 7

Posted in Matthew and Andrew Foundation

Today we will cover the 91 miles between Lebanon, MO and Cuba, MO. Today’s ride is dedicated to a 23 year old young man named Ben Burkhardt. Please view the video for more information about Ben and his incredible story. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ben and his family as we ride today.



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A Father’s Ride-Day 6

Posted in Matthew and Andrew Foundation

Today we will pedal the distance between Springfield, MO and Lebanon, MO. Today’s ride is dedicated to Wil Willis.



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A Father’s Ride Day 5-Remembering Andrew

Posted in Matthew and Andrew Foundation

Today we ride with a heavy heart, as it is the 3 year anniversary of Andrew’s passing. We will be covering the 87 miles from Joplin, MO to Springfield, MO. Today’s ride will be dedicated to James Vokoun, a 7 year old diagnosed with HLH in February of this year. Since February, James has undergone 10 rounds of chemo that have been tough on his little body. Our thoughts and prayers are with James and his family. Andrew and James will be in our hearts and minds as we ride today.



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A Father’s Ride-Day 4

Posted in Matthew and Andrew Foundation

Today we will ride the 74 miles between Vinita, OK and Joplin, MO. Today’s ride is dedicated to 6 year old Noah Bryant. Noah had a bone marrow transplant June 21. He is currently on a ventilator in the Cincinnati PICU after developing a fungal infection in his lungs. Our thoughts and prayers are with Noah and his family.



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A Father’s Ride-Day 3

Posted in Matthew and Andrew Foundation

Day 3 of A Father’s Ride will cover the 103 miles between Bristow, free site analyzer
OK and Vinita, OK.



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A Father’s Ride-Day 2

Posted in Matthew and Andrew Foundation

Day 2 of the journey will be the 87 miles from Oklahoma City, OK to Bristow, OK. The plan today was to dedicate the ride to Mario Aguilar, an 18 month old boy battling HLH. Unfortunately, we received the news this morning that Mario lost his battle to HLH last night. We are dedicating web traffic analyzer
today’s ride to the memory of Mario Aguilar. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.



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A Father’s ride-Day 1

Posted in Matthew and Andrew Foundation

Day 1 of A Father’s Ride! Today’s ride will be dedicated to 5 month old Brantley Matthew Brooks. We will be riding approximately 88 miles from Clinton, OK to Oklahoma City, OK. More information on Brantley and his story can be found online at www.brantleymbrooks.com.



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Upcoming 700 mile bike ride benefitting The Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation

Posted in Matthew and Andrew Foundation

Time to go finish what I started. This Saturday, I’ll starting riding my bicycle the 700 miles between Clinton, OK and St. Louis, MO over the course of 8 days. Thank you for following me on my journey!



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The Ride Starts Labor Day Weekend!

Posted in Matthew and Andrew Foundation

As usual, things don’t always go as planned.  I had targeted this past Saturday as the day I was going back to Clinton, OK where I crashed on my bicycle and broke my shoulder a year ago.  The plan was to ride the remaining 700 miles back to St. Louis over the course of 8 days.  But life got in the way and I’ve had to postpone the ride to start Labor Day weekend instead.  The schedule of the ride is now up on www.afathersride.com.

I’m riding for my sons and all the children who have battled and are battling Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH).  I’ll be dedicating each days ride to a child currently in the hospital fighting this awful immune disorder.  I ride because I can.  My sons no longer have the opportunity to ride their bicycles down the street.  I ride because more awareness needs to be brought to doctors and parents across the country.  This immune disorder is in the “rare” category but it isn’t rare at all.  It is just “rarely” diagnosed correctly.  There are many children and adults who are dying because their doctors think they simply have a virus or are in liver failure.  If the patient is lucky enough to have a doctor who has heard of HLH, they’re usually able to narrow the possibilities down to 2 or 3 diseases/disorders.  Of those, cancer is usually one of the possibilities and the parent is told that Cancer is the one they want.  Cancer gets so much publicity in this country and it is mind blowing to a parent when they’re told that between cancer and HLH, they want their child to have cancer.

But the good news is that awareness is increasing due to the many foundations that have been started in memory/honor of children with HLH.  More and more doctors are starting to get it right.  The Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation purchases all the keywords on Google associated with HLH, so newly diagnosed families are finding our website and reaching out for help.  The number of families reaching out to us continues to increase and that is a good thing.  Because that means the patient was diagnosed correctly, which is the first step.

But even when it is diagnosed correctly, keeping the disease under control can be very difficult.  If the correct combination of steroids and chemo aren’t given immediately, the patient can be gone within the first 24-72 hours.  That is what makes this disease so unique.  It is hard to diagnose and even when it is diagnosed correctly, it is hard to keep it under control to get the patient to transplant.  When families reach out to us, we help facilitate getting them in touch with the world-renowned HLH expert at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.  My wife and I spent 33 months at 3 different pediatric hospitals and we can tell you first hand, there is a difference.

When a child with HLH is admitted to Cincy Children’s for their bone marrow transplant The Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation sends out a $200 Toys R Us gift card to the child.  They’re going to be stuck in that room for weeks and possibly months on end so we try to put a smile on their face with some new toys.  Kristin likes to tell people to just imagine putting their child in their room at night and not allowing them to leave that room for a month.  It really is mind boggling when you think of it that way.

For the second year, the foundation just awarded a scholarship to an HLH survivor who is graduating high school and attending college.  Maddison Reaves was the winner this year and she’ll be attending Weber State in Utah this fall semester.  Congratulations Maddison!

So, Labor Day it is!  I’ll be riding out of Clinton, OK on Saturday, Sept 1st and ending up in St. Louis on Saturday, Sept 8th.  Approximately 700 miles over 8 days!  Anyone is welcome to come join me on this journey.  All I ask is that you try to fundraise for The Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation.  I have someone who will be driving a car along the route to transport luggage and provide support.  He’ll also be responsible for getting all of the daily videos uploaded so I can just peddle!  I have a friend who has already committed to riding with me on the journey and another one that will ride the last couple of days into St. Louis.  You have all summer to prepare!

As I learned the hard way through the deaths of my children, life is short.  Enjoy it to the fullest while you can!

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Back in St. Louis

Posted in Matthew and Andrew Foundation

Dodging tornadoes along the way, I made it back to St. Louis safely.  I went to see an Orthopedic Surgeon who said I don’t need surgery on my shoulder and that everything should heal in 6-12 weeks.  My arm will be in a sling for 3 weeks and then I’ll start physical therapy.  Walking is getting a little easier each day but my left leg is still pretty sore due to the deep contusions.  The road rash on the left side of my body is healing quickly.  The deep gash in my elbow is causing me the most pain.  Thankfully, after having taken our children through four bone marrow transplants, my wife is a wonderful nurse.

I was supposed to be riding my bicycle into St. Louis tomorrow.  As some of you are aware, I was scheduled to throw out the first pitch at the Cardinals vs. Giants baseball game tomorrow night.  Unfortunately, that opportunity is being postponed.  I’m just not healed enough to get that done right now.  I’m sorry for those of you who bought tickets to the game just to come see me.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get it rescheduled with the Cardinals.  Thank you so much to everyone who was coming out to support me.

This crash has messed up so many planned events.  I hadn’t crashed on this bike before and the possibility of it happening during this trip truly hadn’t crossed my mind.  As Matthew would say, “I betcha didn’t see that one coming.” No son, I didn’t.  Thank you to everyone who had worked to set up media opportunities along the way and who had planned to come out and see me on the route.  Also, multiple people offered to finish the ride for me.  Thank you so much but this is my ride I have to do it for my sons and all the other children out there battling HLH.

The first step is to get healed and then to get back into riding shape.

Once again, thank you so much for the support!

 

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Matthew And Andrew Akin Foundation • 11503 St. Charles Rock Rd. • Bridgeton • MO • 63044

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