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June 16, 2016: Community at Work

by Jo Dee Ahmann on June 16, 2016 Comments Off on June 16, 2016: Community at Work

Rob said to me this morning, “I am beyond myself.  This is beyond what I can do.  I cannot believe how great I feel.”  Rob woke up his crew after 2 ½ hours of sleep and said, “It’s time to ride.”  And off he went—community following.

He loves that God is answering his prayers.  He is constantly calling out to His God for help.  “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

And he said his community is keeping him going.  Last night when the hour was late and the going was tough, his niece Madison (age 9) read all the messages to him.  She called him repeatedly with her laughter, encouragement, and words from all of you.  He said it brought him those last few miles into the hotel in Flagstaff.

Madisyn Heistan watches her uncle Rob pass by during a pit stop.

Madisyn Heistand watches her uncle Rob pass by during a pit stop.

I now know one more reason why Christina was such an inspiration to Rob—Listen to her words,   All of you…. all of you are an integral part of this journey, and I feel like I need to reiterate that. You are making this a unique, incredible, and faith-building experience for me but you are also on your own adventure. And for whatever reason I got really excited about your adventures today… I have no idea where you are at in life and what you are going through but I do know that God is passionately pursuing you… whether you feel it or not, whether you believe it or not, whether you feel surrounded by him or a million miles away. God wants your heart.”

 And today, I received this message from Sean Flanagan, Rob’s crew chief.

“I went into this over preparing, thinking I was under-prepared.  I thought data, analytics, documents and spreadsheets would be the source of getting us there, numbers that I geek out over!  But that is a past life, a corporate one, and an old perspective on how I approached and wanted to be prepared for work and/or life obstacles.  Probably a control thing, which most anxiety people deal with, and I am most definitely one of those people.  Yesterday, when our entire Team, the Media, Day and Night Crew all merged into and were focused on Rob when he needed us the most after his crash, that exemplified what community is.  No data or spreadsheet could predict or help Rob with that.  While the crash was out of our control, we were all very much in control of the situation and everyone just knew what to do.”

Madisyn Heistand and Sean Flanagan help Rob get to a chair to rest after racing through the desert.

Madisyn Heistand and Sean Flanagan help Rob get to a chair to rest after racing through the desert.

This traveling community is keeping Rob on the road.  The media crew is keeping it publicized in order to raise money for brain cancer research—that is Rob’s goal in this difficult journey. Giving is a major way to encourage Rob.  We tell him of your financial support and read him your encouraging words.  Give here     You, his global community, are keeping him on the road with your encouraging words, prayer, giving, and “following at a distance support.”  In fact, we run alongside on uphill stretches and read your words to him.  He smiles, thumbs up, and continues the journey.

Kristin DeCou runs alongside her husband Rob as he chugs some iced coffee.

Kristin DeCou runs alongside her husband Rob as he chugs some iced coffee.

Ride on Rob.  Through the mountains, deserts, and lonely roads.  We love you more than you know.

The Messenger,

Jo Dee Ahmann







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Jo Dee AhmannJune 16, 2016: Community at Work

June 16, 2016: Engine

by Joe Mulligan on June 16, 2016 Comments Off on June 16, 2016: Engine

We drove parallel to Marshall. Our engine matching the speed of his legs. We all gave a collective cheer, excited by the progress he has made since we last saw him and impressed by his endurance. 

Brian’s camera snapped along with the hum of the bumpy road. “Good Morning,” he said, clearly in good spirits. “How are y’all doing?” Still keeping pace at about 15 miles per hour, his smile appeared underneath the helmet and the white sunscreen on his cheeks.


He had a calm look about him as if he was in his element. Pedaling, strong and steady, while he leaned down on his matte black handlebars. You could clearly see “3000 Miles to a Cure” written in light blue on his back, contrasting well with the mustard yellow jersey.

He is climbing up through the Coconino Forest which is breathtaking, but not an easy climb. Racing toward Flagstaff Arizona.

“Great, how are you feeling?” Maria asked. “Oh, you know, another day, another climb,” Marshall said with another big smile, his bike in an almost perfectly straight line along the side of the road.

Up ahead we saw his crew parked on the side of the road ready to assist. We sped off and parked directly behind his son Jesse, and another crew member Jacob.


Jacob began speaking into his microphone to Marshall as he came up the road. They readied his drink and held it out at arm’s length.

He zoomed past, saying “Thank you sir” to Jesse and skillfully grabbing the bottle.

We passed him a few more times over the course of the next 20 miles, taking pictures where we could and helping the crew. Each time we drove past him, he had that same look on his face. He looked free. He was not confined to a cockpit looking at things from miles above. He was simply smelling the pines and feeling the fresh Arizona air on his face.


3000 Miles to a Cure is about freedom. It is about freedom from the hopelessness of brain cancer. It is about helping the diagnosed and their families, by providing them something to do against an aggressive and relentless enemy.

Fight with us. Help the thousands of people that are hopeless in the face of brain cancer. Donate here today.

Push on Marshall

Joe Mulligan

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Joe MulliganJune 16, 2016: Engine

In Your Corner

by Maria Parker on June 16, 2016 Comments Off on In Your Corner

This morning the media team breakfasted in Blythe, CA after a short night’s sleep in a Comfort Suites hotel. We sipped our coffee and strategized about how to tell the story of our racers, Marshall Reeves and Rob Decou as they rode through the desert.

A middle aged man approached us asking about our 3000 Mile to a Cure T-shirts. In a quaking voice he told us the story of his best friend, a teacher,who’d just had his third surgery to remove a brain tumor.  As he showed us cell phone pictures of the man and his young family, grief and frustration emanated from him.

The desire to do something, to take any action, to save a loved one is so familiar.   Mostly all we can do is sit by and watch them slide away from us – first surgery, then radiation and chemo, more surgery, more doctor’s visits, more medicine.   We hope, we support, we love, we pray, but these things seem so quiet. At times there is is a desire to hack at and punch and tear the horrible, evil cancer apart, screaming a warrior’s cry all the while.

Race Across America is a tough, physical battle. Rob and Marshall fight for us. They FIGHT. They fight the mountains, the heat, the nausea the exhaustion.. They’re on our team, doing what we cannot, fighting cancer with all the physicality they have. They will not stop.

Cancer sufferers and your families,  we’re in your corner.  We’re with you.  Hang in there.  BC_RAAM_2016_06_15-3

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Maria ParkerIn Your Corner

June 15th, 2016: Heat

by Joe Mulligan on June 15, 2016 Comments Off on June 15th, 2016: Heat

I stood leaning on the following car, watching Marshall’s crew describe the drink system. The previous driver was tapping the drink instruction sheet as a science teacher might. The next two follow vehicle workers nodded their heads in understanding.

I walked over to the RV with Marshall’s son and crew member, Jesse. I asked Jesse how he felt Rob was doing. “His mind-over-matter ability is crazy. He is definitely in minor pain, but he just keeps going. To the point that he will ride until he hurts himself if he isn’t stopped. But you also don’t want to interrupt his flow or anything.”BC_RAAM_2016_06_15-23

I could clearly see the white sunscreen outlining Marshall’s cheekbones as he began to pedal once more. He had a glint in his eye, enjoying the break, in the midst of the cacti-filled fields and heat of Northern Arizona.

Every road looks the same: miles and Miles of hot, bumpy pavement. The only other thing you see is sand covered 18-wheelers and old trucks. The sandy mountains outline the even sandier valleys and there are rhythmic gusts of hot wind that almost increase the temperature, but provide relief at the same time. Water is necessary and ice is appreciated, as we all seem to bake like potatoes in the heat.BC_RAAM_2016_06_15-8

The constant struggle against the heat and the sand reminds me of Mom. Every day, having to see her fade as she fought was a challenge. It hurt to see her change. The same steady fight against the desert raged in Mom’s brain.

In every pedal stroke, there is resolve. We will beat brain cancer. Marshall is acting on this resolve. You can too, by donating here. Every penny goes to research.


Thank you all

Stay steady Marshall.  

Joe Mulligan

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Joe MulliganJune 15th, 2016: Heat

June 15, 2016: Desert, Heat, Crash, and Go!

by Jo Dee Ahmann on June 15, 2016 Comments Off on June 15, 2016: Desert, Heat, Crash, and Go!

The first 24 hours of this race have passed.   It is day 2 and Rob rode through the night.  He had put in some fast miles.  We woke up and got on the road to try to find Rob (with the help of Race tracking info).  We finally found him around 12:15 just after he had veered off the road and crashed.  In his words, “I shouldn’t have looked back to see the truck.  I’m just tired and didn’t think clearly.”

Kim Godawa patches up Rob after he had a fall in the Sonoran desert.

Kim Godawa patches up Rob after he had a fall in the Sonoran desert.

He had a good bit of road rash on his left thigh which his nurse attended to.  I may not have mentioned that I am Rob’s life coach.  He told me he was fine, just a little rattled from the accident.  I prayed with him and then he whispered, “I really am good.”

"I feel really good," whispers Rob DeCou after praying with Jo Dee Ahmann while recovering from a fall.

“I feel really good,” whispers Rob DeCou after praying with Jo Dee Ahmann while recovering from a fall.

When we were all back on the road, he asked me to call him.  He laughed a bit, told me his plan, and told me that he wanted some of his longtime friends and mentors to call him.  He said, “I need my community.  It does not go well when I am not in touch.”  The friends and mentors include some high school teachers and coaches and a woman who has had some severe medical issues including transplants and a few kinds of cancer.  Her name is Jan Stanton and she, like Christina, inspires Rob with her joyful, upbeat approach to life.  One of Christina’s favorite Bible verses describes Jan perfectly, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”  Proverbs 31:25  Rob loves to surround himself with people who laugh at the days to come—courageous, joyful, strong—no matter what the circumstances.

Rob pedals on through the Sonoran desert in 100 degree heat.

Rob pedals on through the Sonoran desert in 100 degree heat.

His plan is to cycle until 11:00 P.M. tonight and then take a 3 hour rest.  For those of you doing the math that is 33 ½ hours of continuous cycling.  It is something I can’t fathom.  I am just riding through the desert in a car and dealing with dehydration and a headache.  How can a human being push the limits of endurance this way?

Signing off,

The Messenger, Jo Dee Ahmann

Rob is racing to raise money for brain cancer research.  His goal is $20,000.  Would you please consider giving here

You can leave him a note of encouragement. We are reading notes to him as he rides.

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Jo Dee AhmannJune 15, 2016: Desert, Heat, Crash, and Go!

June 14, 2016: Step by Step

by Joe Mulligan on June 14, 2016 Comments Off on June 14, 2016: Step by Step

This morning started with a delicious waffle and a warm cup of coffee. The team met, and we talked about our unique skills and how doing RAAM for 3000 Miles to a cure might bring hope. It gave me confidence and even comforted me to see a group of people so rallied behind 3000 Miles to a Cure.

The media team asked Marshall a few questions about the race. When asked about the start he said, “I don’t like attention; I don’t like all the hoopla at the start. I would rather just be started somewhere and just go . . . There is never a “I shouldn’t do this” because you’re gonna. Once you get to that point, it is almost a relief,”BC_RAAM_2016_06_13-2

His toughness was heard in his words. Marshall is a fighter. He is fighting a different fight than my mom was, but I can see the same determination and grit. He reminds me of the diesel truck my dad had when I was a kid. I can almost see him crossing the finish line in Annapolis. I am in awe of Marshall’s strength and am really interested to see how it will manifest itself as he supports 3000 Miles to a Cure through RAAM.


But honestly, I am a little scared. I have a feeling the new time zones and car-confinement are going to be hard. I really do love my fellow passengers though, and I know they are going to get me through it. However I am constantly reminded of my mother’s words.

“God is an amazing God, you just gotta have faith.”
So here I go, RAAM begins tomorrow and I am going to be ready. We have the people, we have the equipment, and now we have the excitement. Annapolis here we come!

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Joe MulliganJune 14, 2016: Step by Step

June 14, 2016: Soarin’

by Joe Mulligan on June 14, 2016 Comments Off on June 14, 2016: Soarin’

Marshall Reeves is a pilot when he isn’t competing in ultra-cycling events. We sat together, 100 feet from the starting line discussing airplane types and the advantages of being a pilot. He usually flies to Europe and gets to pick his hours, because he has been a pilot for 26 years. As we chatted, it was almost like RAAM didn’t exist, but you could see his leg restlessly pulsing, despite his veteran coolness.


As he looked over his bike for the third time, I could tell he was thinking about the challenge ahead. His crew was a very different kind of nervous. They were talking and socializing, clearly trying to occupy their minds with something other than bike mechanics and checkpoints. We bought some delicious pizza and had some good conversation around the well-decaled follow car.

There was grease on Adam, the bike mechanic’s, hand as he sat there running over the plan with his crew buddies and looking for tools in the back of the RV. Jacob sat cross-legged on the ground tinkering with Marshall’s helmet.

As the starting time approached, hundreds of people stood mingled in with the racers encouraging them and giving them friendly pats on the back. The announcer was steadily counting down from 5 every minute sending each racer across the start line. Marshall was just sitting in the shade and rigging up his ear buds so he could listen to James Taylor.  

Twenty minutes later, he sat on his bike under the inflatable Race Across America start line, dancing to the upbeat music that was playing in the background. He had a big smile on his face and his fingers drummed impatiently on the handlebars.


Once started, he was all business. I got to see him 3 or 4 times over the next 50 miles. Each time he passed, I could see the resolve in his face. His crew simply handed him water bottles and told him good luck as he passed by. The last time I saw him, he was riding 40 miles per hour down a long descent, weaving around turns and bracing against the wind. His bike tires were a blur and his face was tight with concentration.


I can’t belive it has actually started. I feel the mix of excitement and anxiety as the race has only just begun. RAAM is about endurance and Marshall is ready to ride.
Here we go, 100 miles out of the way, and we are just getting started.

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Joe MulliganJune 14, 2016: Soarin’

June 14, 2016: And the Race Begins!!

by Jo Dee Ahmann on June 14, 2016 Comments Off on June 14, 2016: And the Race Begins!!

Rob is on the road!

Here are some highlights.

Rob arrived at the start at about 11:15 and gathered his team.

He asked his close friend from Rotary, Joe Chehade, to lead us in prayer.  Here it is:

“Lord, before Rob starts the race, we wanted to pause for a moment, and first of all thank you for the journey that led to this moment, the planning, the training and the support of everyone present and not present.  We thank you for the life of Christina Nevill, as we honor her legacy of faith, courage and joy.

We ask you to remove all anxiety and replace it with your hope, strength and peace.  We know You and your angels will accompany Rob and the crew along the way.  We ask You to keep them safe, in good health and in high spirit, Your Spirit.

If challenges surface, we will repeat with David: My help comes from the Lord…He will not let your foot slip.  He watches over you.  He will not sleep.

We have faith that what is impossible for man, is possible for God.  We can’t wait to witness all the miracles you will do along the way from here to Annapolis.  Amen”20160614_start-1

With that, Rob told us of the challenge his ultra endurance support team is undertaking. They have thrown down the challenge of doing one burpee for every mile Rob pedals.  That is 3069 burpees in 12 days.  We watched their first 10 burpees at the start line.   A very fun challenge indeed!!  I think Tyler Clemens is the crew member who came up with the idea.BC_RAAM_2016_06_14-13

Rob also instructed his team to come up with positive nicknames for the whole crew.  There are a few–Chris “Tarzan” Clemens.  Mine is Messenger.  Rob’s unborn baby is “Little Buddy”.20160614_start-5

Some have asked why Rob rides a recumbent bike.  The major reason is comfort.  Think—no saddle sores, no numb arms and wrists, no severe neck problems.  On a 3000 mile bike race, those things are crucial.  Rob is a big guy and all of those issues would be exacerbated.  The recumbent bike can be the very thing that helps him across the finish line.

Rob’s goal is to cross the finish line within the time limit.  That is 12 days.  His motto is “Slow and steady.  Steady is fast.”

In light of slow and steady, we caught up to Rob after a huge, steep descent into the desert.  He looked over at us and asked how we were doing.  After our “fine, great, and you?”  He said, “That was a great descent, better than the climb.  I hit 54 mph.  It’s the fastest I’ve ever gone…but then I slowed down…for my mother.”

Go Rob!!!

Jo Dee Ahmann, The Messenger

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Jo Dee AhmannJune 14, 2016: And the Race Begins!!

June 13, 2016: The Day Before

by Jo Dee Ahmann on June 13, 2016 Comments Off on June 13, 2016: The Day Before

The last day before the race is complete.  I pray that Rob can sleep.  It was a day full of last minute details. The 3000 Miles to a Cure team started the day all together—breakfast and some special moments of sharing our stories and lives.

Then everyone scattered for interviews, inspections, photo sessions, and mountains of paper work that needed completion.

Race Across America interviews Rob before the start.

Race Across America interviews Rob before the start.

The day culminated in the gathering for the RAAM final instructions and introduction of the solo racers.  It was a festive international atmosphere.  Riders from all over the world are gathered here for this premier ultra endurance bike race.  We all wonder which riders will overcome the immense obstacles ahead—desert, mountains, plains, heat, altitude, sleep deprivation and exposure and actually cross the finish line in Annapolis, Maryland.  About half of the riders will drop out due to injury, accident, or exhaustion.

Rob DeCou shakes hands with a fellow cyclist for the Race Across America the night before the competition.

Rob DeCou shakes hands with a fellow cyclist for the Race Across America the night before the competition.

Rob DeCou's team cheers him on as approaches the front of the Race Across America meeting with the other competitors.

Rob DeCou’s team cheers him on as approaches the front of the Race Across America meeting with the other competitors.

Rob is ready to ride.  The time has arrived—finally.  All this preparation, fund raising, gathering his community has led to the big start.  He is ready to test the limits of his endurance, rely on the sustaining power of God, and ride to support those who are facing an even harder obstacle—brain cancer.  We talked about hope this morning.  Rob is choosing to enter into suffering in order to stand with those who did not choose their suffering.  When a person has a brain cancer diagnosis it is dire news.  To know that someone is standing with you brings hope.

Rob is riding in memory of Christina Nevill and for all those who are in the midst of their struggle.  Christina spoke of the importance of the community of support after her first brain surgery.  She wrote,

“At one point while I was in the hospital trying to put facts and feelings together, knowing a lot of what I was hearing wasn’t ‘good news’, I suddenly saw this very clear picture that stopped me in my tracks.  I saw myself all laid out, hospital gown, tubes, IV’s and all–but with no bed under me. Instead what was under me were all you wonderful people holding me up with your prayers – passing me hand over hand through the crowd as you prayed both silently and out loud. I saw distinct faces of college friends, missionary friends, childhood friends, family, even people I didn’t know, and a peace  just washed over me. I realized that this is not a battle I fight alone in my heart. The battle is being fought for me. I felt such a relief at that moment I almost laughed.  My burden was being carried…”

Thank you for standing with us as we start this epic journey.  And may all of you who are fighting the battle you did not choose, know that you are not alone.

Jo Dee Ahmann

Rob DeCou and his team wait for team photos and interviews the day before the race.

Rob DeCou and his team wait for team photos and interviews the day before the race.








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Jo Dee AhmannJune 13, 2016: The Day Before

June 12, 2016: Introduction and Preparation

by Joe Mulligan on June 13, 2016 Comments Off on June 12, 2016: Introduction and Preparation


Heroes are people who have fear, but overcome that fear and use it as fuel. What makes heroes even more special is their ability to instill courage in others around them. The best hero is one who leads with confidence and humility and inspires those traits in the people around them.

Marshall Reeves and Rob DeCou are the heroes of 3000 Miles to a Cure. By attempting RAAM they show us what it means to be courageous leaders and selflessly support 3000 Miles to a Cure.

I am here because my mother, Jenny Mulligan, died of brain cancer almost exactly 2 years ago. I have been given the opportunity to write about this event from my perspective. In doing so, I honor my mother’s memory and aid the fight against brain cancer. I will be following Marshall Reeves as he competes one of the most challenging ultra-cycling events in the world.

Marshall stands at slightly under 6 feet and sports a gray 5 o’clock shadow. He has an aura of intelligence and leadership around him. He looks like a man who has been hardened by battle. His smile is a fatherly one, often coming after a punny joke or witty retort. His strong calves and quads stand out on his muscled figure. His crew is a group of young men with great sense of humor and great dedication to the cause of helping Marshall to finish. They share a tight, family like bond, though they haven’t known each other for long. They seem to be excited to overcome the challenge alongside Marshall.


Today I helped to prepare Rob and Marshall’s vehicles by applying their RAAM numbers and  3000 Miles to a Cure decals. Marshall has attempted RAAM twice previously, and he is clearly committed to getting to the finish line this year. His crew of six shares his commitment and plans to do whatever they can to get him to Annapolis safely.


In this morning’s meeting, we gathered both teams together and discussed how RAAM and the fight against brain cancer are intertwined. RAAM presents an opportunity to combat the hopelessness of brain cancer. Some tears flowed, as my Aunt Maria talked about her personal experience with brain cancer. Jenny Mulligan, her sister and my mother, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2012 and died a year and a half later.

It was during this story that I began to realize how personal RAAM was, not just for me, but also for others in the room. Though some had relatives that suffered the same fate as my mother, I realized it was more than just brain cancer, it was hardship of any kind. Race Across America represents a fight against the odds, it represents a fight against the very earth beneath your tires and feet. In life, we are often given difficult situations that we can do little about, but it is during these times that we learn the most and grow the most.

I am looking forward to being inspired by Rob and Marshall as they begin this 3000 mile journey.  BC_RAAM_2016_06_12_Watermarked-6

Joe Mulligan is the 16-year-old son of Jenny Mulligan, whose story is at the heart of 3000 Miles to a Cure. Joe is following Marshall Reeves in his 2016 Solo Race Across America for brain cancer research. He will be sharing Marshall’s stories along the way, honoring the memory of his mother and working to change the future for those diagnosed with brain cancer.

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Joe MulliganJune 12, 2016: Introduction and Preparation