WEST CHESTER, PA — Lung cancer survivor Terri Ann DiJulio will ride over 400 miles from Philadelphia to Maryland and back to raise awareness and funds for a local lung cancer nonprofit, Ride Hard Breathe Easy. DiJulio has been diagnosed three times with early-stage lung cancer and has lost her mother, two uncles, and an aunt to the disease. Since her second cancer diagnosis in 2014, DiJulio has been advocating for more research and funding for this disease. “Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, yet it receives the least amount of research funding,” said DiJulio. “Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.”
DiJulio has chosen the Cheltenham-based nonprofit Ride Hard Breathe Easy because the money they raise goes directly to supporting patients undergoing treatment. “We pay for transport to and from hospital, gas bills, rent, or other necessities so patients can focus on their treatment,” said Ride Hard Breathe Easy Founder, John Matthews. The idea for the lengthy bike ride was born out of Matthews’ personal experience with lung cancer. “My mother was diagnosed in 2011 at age 79 and my final promise to her was that I was going to do something to support others with this disease,” said Matthews. That something started as a commitment from Matthews to raise one million dollars for lung cancer in his lifetime and materialized as a cross-country bike ride in 2017. Two years later, that ride became the nonprofit Ride Hard Breathe Easy that has helped hundreds of patients and caregivers with the financial stress of a lung cancer diagnosis. Since 2017, RHBE has raised over $730,000.
The bike ride begins on September 3, at Temple Hospital in Philadelphia, travels through New Jersey, Baltimore, Northeast Maryland and finishes back in Philly at Wissahickon Brewery on September 7. Around eight cyclists, including DiJulio, will cover the 425 miles in five days. In the past, DiJulio has raised over $80,000 dollars for lung cancer and just this year she gave up her business as an event planner to become a full-time lung cancer advocate. “By raising awareness and educating people through bike rides like this, my hope is to help move the needle forward in creating more positive outcomes like mine, early detection saves lives,” said DiJulio.