Nemours Executive to Bike 900 Miles from Florida to Delaware | Business

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Nemours Executive to Bike 900 Miles from Florida to Delaware
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Every journey begins with a single step. For Nemours General Counsel Steve Sparks, the 9-day journey he is about to embark on really began 18 years ago, when his daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. The Delaware County, PA, native and his wife Michelle, received the difficult news about then 3-year-old Katie, and understood that life as they knew it would never be the same.

 

From 1993 to 1996, when the family lived in Chadds Ford, PA, Katie underwent chemotherapy and other treatments at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. “Those were long, trying, uncertain days,” Steve recalled, “But she was treated in wonderful facilities by kind and compassionate caregivers,” he said. “To this day, Michelle and I still consider the staff that treated my daughter to be heroes. I can’t thank them enough. Of course, Katie is my hero, too.”

The impact of his experience with Nemours went beyond Steve’s appreciation of the superb health care his daughter received. He felt compelled to use his legal talents in pursuit of its mission and purpose. In 2000, Steve joined the Nemours team. He is now Senior Vice President and General Counsel, residing with his family in Ponte Vedra, near Jacksonville, Florida, where Nemours’ home office is located.

In February 2011, Katie celebrated her 21st birthday. As Steve reflected on the fact that his daughter, once so ill, had crossed the threshold into adulthood, he decided to do something to honor her, raise funds for cancer programs, and put closure on his own feelings about her ordeal. On May 26, 2011, Steve will begin a more than 900-mile bike ride, starting at the winter home of Alfred I. duPont, Epping Forest in Jacksonville, FL, and finishing at Mr. duPont’s estate in Wilmington, DE, the Nemours Mansion and Gardens.

 

By connecting the main residences of Alfred I. & Jessie Ball duPont, Steve explained, “I want to pay tribute to their vision and legacy of care to alleviate the pain and suffering of children.” He added, “I also hope that this ride will end my journey by helping me put my daughter’s illness and recovery behind me and celebrate the happy, healthy adult she is today.”

Katie, who is healthy and cancer-free is currently finishing her junior year at UCLA, and says of her dad, “He began fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America by running marathons when I was diagnosed at age 3. I am thrilled that he has continued this tradition, and expanded his fundraising to support a place that will be able to help children with many different types of illnesses. It shows not only his generosity, but his dedication to the cause as he has been doing things like this since I can remember.”

“My parents have given me everything I could possibly need to be successful in the world, including taking me to Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children for treatment. The doctors who treated me 18 years ago still keep in touch with my family and have continued to support me in my endeavors. I could not have asked for a better experience.”

Steve has raised nearly $80,000 to date. His goal is to raise at least $100,000 for Hematology/Oncology programs at Nemours.

The Trip (tentative schedule – subject to weather and other conditions)

  • May 26, 2011: Departs from Epping Forest, Jacksonville, Florida
  • May 26 - June 1: Follows Route 17 with treks through or near Savannah, GA; Charleston, SC; Myrtle Beach, SC; Wilmington, NC; Suffolk, NC; and Virginia Beach, VA
  • June 1 – June 2: Crosses Chesapeake Bay Bridge and follows Route 13 through Salisbury, MD and into Wilmington, DE
  • June 3: Arrives in Wilmington at Nemours Mansion
  • Steve's wife will keep pace with Steve by driving the route

Follow his trek and see photos from his journey on his blog: http://ridefornemours.squarespace.com/

Donations can me made via: www.nemours.org/bikeride.

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