A family and its friends ride together

Published 9:16 am Monday, May 4, 2009

Forty-five members and close friends of the Navarro family turned out Saturday to ride in the annual Freeborn County American Cancer Society Bike-A-Thon.

The show of support was in honor of Robert Navarro, who grew up in Albert Lea and now lives in Rochester. He was diagnosed with kidney cancer in November of 2007 and has been undergoing treatment since.

“It’s definitely good to have support,” he said.

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Navarro is no stranger to the Bike-A-Thon. He has ridden in it a number of times. The first time, he said, was in 1973. The last time was two years ago, with a close friend, who died last year of cancer.

When Navarro was diagnosed with cancer, he said family and friends made the decision to ride this year. “It just grew,” he said of the large family turnout, which made up a large portion of the Bike-A-Thon’s total of 105 individual riders.

Navarro rode as far as Glenville. His wife, Deb, made it to Hayward. Many family members made it farther (many stopping at Geneva) and some made it the whole way.

One nephew came from as far away as Washington, D.C. Other family members came from Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Rochester and Albert Lea. All three of the couple’s children rode, as well as grandchildren, brothers, sisters, friends, nieces, nephews and cousins.

The couple’s niece-in-law, Laurie, was the second rider to complete the route that day. The couple’s nephew, Santiago Navarro, came in third.

Navarro family riders brought in $4,739 pledges for the American Cancer Society. That included $250 from the school where Laurie and Santiago teach, Bruce Guadalupe Community School in Milwaukee.

One of the couple’s nephews designed a shirt for family members to wear on the ride. The gray shirts sported a cartoon character and the word “CanServive.” They included Robert Navarro’s signature in orange — the color for kidney cancer awareness.

Navarro said it was hard to express how proud he was of his family on Saturday.

“I’m proud of everyone,” he said. “It’s hard to put it into words.”

Thirty-four riders completed the 100-mile ride. The last three riders came in at 6:15 p.m. They were Fred Moran, Adam Moffitt and Jake Moffitt, three generations of one family.