Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

His Eventful Bicycle Ride Raises $3,000 for Hope Haven

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

His Eventful Bicycle Ride Raises $3,000 for Hope Haven

Article excerpt

Byline: Cindy Holifield & Sandy Strickland

There were some interesting twists on Matt Nelson's fundraising ride from Miami to Key West, including an emergency appendectomy, flat tires and a wedding a week later. The appendectomy wasn't planned, the wedding was and the flats were expected.

It all started when Nelson, of Jacksonville, and his uncle, Kevin Stockhausen, organized a ride to benefit Hope Haven Children's Clinic and Family Center, in gratitude for services provided Nelson's daughter, Emily, who has Down syndrome. The two-day, 160-mile bicycle trip, dubbed "The Ride for Hope," raised more than $3,000 for children receiving care in the clinic's Down Syndrome Center on the Southside.

Stockhausen recruited friends Tom O'Neill and Boban Rankovic from Miami to participate. Jack Revas of Miami served as a one-man support crew. Nelson, director of treasury finances at CSX, woke up feeling funny at 1:30 a.m. on Day 1 but completed the first leg. That night, he got worse and was taken to the hospital in Tavernier for surgery. (His wife drove him home.) Rankovic's fiancee, Margaret O'Neill, also a Miami resident, filled in for Nelson on Day 2. A week later, O'Neill and Rankovic married.

Nelson is fine now and says he wants to do an expanded ride next year, a fact that pleased director of development Anne Wall.

"I'm absolutely blessed to live in this community and have access to its services," Nelson said, calling Hope Haven a wonderful organization.

Here's more good news:

- Preston Gannam doesn't want his fellow 1,300 students at his school, Chets Creek Elementary, to get painful sunburns. Nor does he, for that matter. So Preston, a leukemia survivor who's also had four moles removed, wrote a prize-winning essay that will net his school a sunshade structure for its playground.

The Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery is presenting the structures to four schools as part of its annual Florida Sun Defense Essay Contest. In his essay, Preston said that others at his school have had cancer and that the shade can help protect their skin and eyes from the "harsh light. …

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