Grandfather in European ride to raise awareness of childhood cancer
An American grandfather will be riding through over 37 European countries in a bid to raise awareness of childhood cancer, with his third stop in Gibraltar.
Jim Clarahan from Peoria, Illinois USA, plans to travel over 21,000km in a motorcycle, and last week he was in Gibraltar raising awareness of cancer in children.
Mr Clarahan will turn 64 this May and is retiring from a 42-year career at RSM US LLP, part of the RSM international network of assurance, tax and consulting experts with offices all over the world.
His challenge will see him visit over 53 RSM offices in around 120 days.
The ride is in honour of his grandson Drayson Tate Stewart, who was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour at 22 months old.
“He was a healthy one year old baby boy, with all markers in 90%+ for his peer group. Three months after his first birthday, he was rapidly losing weight - something was wrong, but what? He was eating everything,” Mr Clarahan said.
“His primary care givers misdiagnosed him for over seven-months that he had a brain tumour.”
“His visible symptoms were, at the time, more commonly associated with a disease called ‘lipodystrophy’ - rapid loss of weight and body mass.”
“His brain tumour was not detected until my daughter and son-in-law took Dray to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion in October 2019.”
“The type tumour is called a pilomyxoid astrocytoma. Initially we hoped and prayed that it was benign, however, six months into his initial chemo treatment, a biopsy confirmed it was cancerous.”
Mr Clarahan added that Dray, now five and a half years old, has been on chemo for the last three and half years.
“He is near the end of a two-year clinical trial that involves chemo two times per day, everyday, and MRI scans every 8 to 12 weeks,” Mr Clarahan said.
“This clinical trial ends the first week of July. The next phase of treatment is a ‘quality of life’ plan, no chemo with monitoring (MRI scans) every two months.”
“If the tumour starts growing again, then he will go back on to some form of chemo.”
Mr Clarahan started his ‘Ride 4 Dray’ around Europe on April 29, in Madrid.
He then rode west to Lisbon, and then south to Gibraltar for his third stop of his 53 planned visits.
“My mission for this ride is to raise awareness for improving diagnostic protocols for paediatric brain tumours and childhood cancer in general,” he said.
So far is has raised $11,000 USD and in Gibraltar RSM raised £500 which was donated to local charity RICC.
Mr Clarahan’s goal is to raise $500,000 in total, which would be a combination of all monies donated throughout Europe and in the USA.
“Whether they are donated to local charities in honour of my Ride 4 Dray, or directly to my charity, I hope that together we can have that kind of impact,” he said.
Mr Clarahan launched the charity during the Covid pandemic and rode the eastern half of the USA logging 11,000 miles in 60 days.
“I was astounded with the generosity of those I met along the way,” he said.
“That first ride netted over $161,000 USD, which was passed onto children’s cancer treatment and research organizations in the USA.”
Donations can be made direct to the Ride 4 Dray campaign online via: www.ride4dray.org
Mr Clarahan also recommended donating to RICC in Gibraltar and donate in honour of his grandson Dray.
To follow Mr Clarahan’s journey, he will be posting blogs regularly on the Ride 4 Dray website, and for up-to-date info on Dray's treatment and health, follow ‘Dray's Fight’ on Facebook.