Posted: Monday, July 1, 2013 10:00 am
By WENDI WINTERS firstname.lastname@example.org
Passing under an archway of aqua, yellow and white balloons at the Davidsonville home of Daniel Wellington and JoAnn DeCesaris Wellington, they wondered how a bicyclist could make it up the hill.
At the top of the incline, Beth Prout Lennon poured champagne into glass flutes. Lennon’s best friend, JoAnn DeCesaris Wellington, Daniel’s wife, looked at her cellphone. Linked to a chip on her husband’s helmet, she could track his progress through the winding country roads.
Wellington, at 5:45 p.m. was just a few miles away. He was pedaling the final miles of a 20-day, 1,500-plus mile bike trip from Topeka. He had flown to the Kansas town June 5, and mounted his bike the next day. He was intent on completing an unfulfilled personal challenge and raising money — and awareness — for cancer research.
Twenty-three years earlier, Wellington decided to ride his bike across America starting from the west coast. He ran out of money and resource in middle America.
“I had enough money to get a plane ticket home,” said the 46 year old.
Life interrupted. He didn’t have the opportunity again until this year after selling his consulting firm. He is using his bicycle journey to raise awareness for the cancer research founded by JoAnn DeCesaris Wellington and Lennon.
“Me doing 1,500 miles is nothing compared to the more than 10 years these two have put into the foundation that gives money to causes they’ve researched,” he said.
The DeCesaris Prout Cancer Foundation holds an annual golf tournament that has raised more than $1 million for ovarian and lung cancer research. The 11th annual tourney was held June 14, while Wellington was on the road.
His father-in-law, residential developer Geaton DeCesaris Jr., donated $3 million to the Anne Arundel Medical Center in 2002, the year he was diagnosed with 3C lung cancer. He died of the disease in 2006. Lennon’s mother, Maureen Prout, learned she had ovarian cancer in 2002. After a long battle, she passed away in 2007.
Before his bike’s rubber hit the road, Wellington raised $27,000 in pledges for the foundation.
From Topeka to Erie, Pa., Wellington traveled with a large group biking cross-country from Los Angeles to Boston, sponsored by CrossRoads Cycling. The group averaged about 100 miles each day. He parted ways with the group in Erie, Pa.
“I was motivated by my late father-in-law and others and the effort JoAnn and Beth do every year,” he said.
Just a few miles from home, he added, “I’m looking forward to seeing my kids and my wife — and sleeping in my own bed.”
Waiting for Wellington
Last week, their house was filling up with more than 75 adults and children — all waiting for Wellington’s arrival.
“I can’t wait to see him,” said JoAnn DeCesaris Wellington. “Though, I admit I snuck off to see him for a half-hour last night.”
Marysville resident Kyle O’Haro, a friend of Wellington’s since seventh grade, applauded Wellington’s accomplishment.
“He picked up where he left off — and for a better cause,” O’Haro said. “This fight for cancer is important to this family.”
A 6:05 p.m. a shout went up. Wellington was at the base of the long driveway. He easily climbed the hill astride his bike. He raised his arms in triumph as he passed under the balloon arch.
His wife stepped out to greet him and they kissed. He embraced his children. Then, he, JoAnn and the adults in the crowd shared a champagne toast.
“I’m glad I won’t be talking anymore about finishing this trip I started 23 years ago,” he said. “I can check it off the bucket list.”