Teacher’s pedalin’ for a cure

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Riding a bike 88 miles in one day is no big deal, Johnny Brewer said.

“You just keep pedaling.”

Brewer plans to do just that next month when he participates for the second year in Peddlin’ for a Cure, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society which will see bicyclists ride 88 miles from the Monroe County courthouse to the USS Alabama in Mobile.

Still, it won’t exactly be a typical day for the LBWCC music instructor.

“On a normal day, I ride anywhere from 10 to 40 miles, depending on how much time I have,” he said. “You can figure 16 to 18 miles an hour.”

The 88-mile ride is broken into 14 to 15-mile segments, and food is available at each stop, he said. The major key is staying hydrated, but he also ate eight or nine Snickers bars the last time he did this.

This year, he’s riding in honor of fellow educator Phillip Ellis, principal of W.S. Neal High School, who was diagnosed last spring with multiple myeloma, a curable but aggressive form of cancer. After a particularly difficult winter spent at UAB Medical Center in Birmingham, family and friends report Ellis is improving.

Brewer said he has known Ellis through education circles for years, but got to know him better when his brother-in-law married Ellis’s daughter.

“I couldn’t think of anyone better to ride in honor of,” Brewer said. “(Ellis) is always the type of person to offer you anything,” Brewer said. “He is as nice as can be, giving of himself and his time.”

Brewer said he has been impressed by Ellis’ positive attitude since his diagnosis.

More than 200 people have signed on as fans of Brewer Facebook page for Peddlin’ for a Cure, many of them Ellis’ former students. Many of the comments offer prayers and support for Ellis, as well as wishing luck to Brewer on his ride.

While “Peddlin” is a fundraiser for Relay for Life for which participants are asked to raise $100 each, Brewer said he’s only asked family members for support.

Financial contributions can be made through the Relay for Life Web site. A direct link is included on the Facebook page Brewer created for the event, 2010 Peddlin’ for a Cure—88 Miles in Honor of Phillip Ellis.