Pedal pusher

La Grange’s Hamburger
to ride across Death Valley for charity

He rides in memory of his lost loved ones, friends

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(October 2007) – La Grange, Ky., resident Tim Hamburger is not afraid to face difficult obstacles. He is undertaking a challenging 17-hour bicycle ride through Death Valley in the hope of finding a cure for cancer.

Tim Hamburger

Photo provided

Tim Hamburger has
raised $66,000
for charity.

On Oct. 27, Hamburger will ride through the border of California and Nevada to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. He will traverse a valley where the temperature soars to 130 degrees in the summer and below freezing at night.
The ride will begin and end in a town called Furnace Creek, and the course consists of nearly 10,000 feet of climbing. Death Valley is 282 feet below sea level, not the most desirable course for cyclists.
Hamburger, 41, has been participating in fundraisers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since 1998. So far, this Columbus, Ohio, native has managed to raise $66,000.
Although the ride through Death Valley “might seem challenging, it pales in comparison to the challenges cancer patients face every day,” said Hamburger. This ride is dedicated to the memory of good friend, Crickett Julius, and his cousin, Karen, both who died from breast cancer.
This ride has been in existence for 15 years. Hamburger chose to participate partly because it will be almost one year to the day since his friend died. He also wanted to suffer through the extreme conditions “to gain an understanding of what they went through.”
He had been a competitive runner for many years before taking up bicycling and had the opportunity to run for the ASICS shoe company in 1990 and 1991. “I had become burnt out on running,” said Hamburger. But he decided to give it one more shot and in 1997 he began training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
That year he received a brochure in the mail from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and attended an informational meeting for the society’s Team in Training program. Attending the same meeting was 11-year-old Matt Lewis who stood up in front of a room full of people and “talked about what it meant to him to have complete strangers run hundreds of miles to train in order to help kids like him. He sold me on the program.”
Hamburger was assigned to a local Patient Hero, which turned out to be Matt. Another amazing fact was that Matt lived in the same Pittsburgh neighborhood as Hamburger.
Matt had been diagnosed with leukemia when he was only 7 years old. His younger brother, Greg, who was 2 years old at the time, was his marrow donor. Matt had to endure chemotherapy and radiation before the transplant.
“I had no idea at the time just how much of an impact this young man would have on my life,” said Hamburger. He decided to give the marathon his best shot in honor of Matt. When Hamburger qualified, he had the official marathon finisher’s medal engraved with both of their names.
When Hamburger took the medal to Matt to tell him he had qualified for the 103rd Boston Marathon, he was met with a shock. Matt’s leukemia had returned.
Matt began the hardest part of his battle all over again and triumphed. When Hamburger ran the Boston Marathon in 1999, the streets were lined with more than 1.5 million spectators. He remembers “standing at the starting line with 12,000 of the world’s best marathoners, thinking how luck I was to be there.”
Also there that day was Matt and his family, who had traveled to Boston to share in the exhilarating experience with him. Matt even broke through the crowd and ran about 50 yards with Hamburger. Hamburger completed the marathon in two hours and 52 minutes, placing in the top 3 and a half percent overall.
Because of Matt, he has become very involved in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He helped create the Team in Training bicycling program for the Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia Chapter in 1999. This program is the world’s largest endurance sports training program. Hamburger served as head cycling coach from 1999 to 2002.
He has been training six days a week for the Death Valley ride. Because of these long hours, he is often away from his family. His wife Sharon commented, “It takes him away from his family, but also shows our kids (ages 2 and 5) how you can help people and be dedicated to something.”
Sharon has accompanied him on some of his fundraising events and is very supportive, as is the rest of his family. “It’s an incredible thing he’s doing,” she said.
In his job with Pfizer, Hamburger was transferred to Cleveland, Ohio, in 2003 and then to Louisville in 2006. But he has never lost contact with Matt, making many trips back to Pittsburgh to visit. “Every milestone he achieves in his life will always be celebrated by our family, too.”

• To sponsor Tim Hamburger on his Death Valley ride, checks can be made payable to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or the Lance Armstrong Foundation and mailed to: Tim Hamburger, 4811 Stanley Farm Ct., La Grange, KY 40031.

Back to October 2007 Articles.



Copyright 1999-2015, Kentuckiana Publishing, Inc.

Pick-Up Locations Subscribe Staff Advertise Contact Submit A Story Our Advertisers Columnists Archive Area Links Area Events Search our Site Home Monthly Articles Calendar of Events Kentucky Speedway Madison Chautauqua Madison Ribberfest Madison Regatta