June 04, 2009

Walk of Life to End in Sarasota After 800 Miles

Brain Cancer Survivor Walks from Duke University to Sarasota to Raise Money and Awareness

Tony McEachern has walked through the front door of Sarasota’s Village Bikes many times, as both an employee and an avid world-class athlete. This Saturday, Tony will walk through the bike shop’s front doors again—this time, with a team of dedicated supporters, and approximately 800 miles behind him.

In 2002, after finishing the grueling 10 day Vietnam adventure bicycle race Raid Gauloises, Tony McEachern was diagnosed with Brain Cancer. A mysterious seizure led to the discovery of a large tumor on the right side of his brain, called an anaplastic astrocytoma. McEachern has undergone over 300 MRI’s and scans, 20 seizures, 9 surgeries, over 1100 days of chemotherapy, and more than 42 trips to the Duke University Brain Tumor Clinic. Now years beyond the expectations and predictions of many doctors, McEachern has organized a support team of family, friends, and doctors, which he calls ‘Team Tony.’

On April 25th, more than six years after his diagnosis, Team Tony began their Walk of Life with two goals. “First, I plan to raise much needed funds for The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke to whom I’m indebted to for my life, in the hope that it will enable them to do for others what they have done for me,” says McEachern. “My second goal is to meet more people, to share my adventure, and to learn about theirs.”

Since then, Tony McEachern has walked 800 miles through three states. Through the support of his family and friends, funds have been raised to fuel support vehicles, provide food and lodging, and other supplies. “I've been given 5 star-rooms, cab rides, meals, crumpled dollar bills, bottled water, companionship, scratch off tickets, allowances, club dues, $500.00 checks to $1.35 in cash donations, and countless have donated their time,” says McEachern. “Each of these acts were as valuable as the next, they all came from the heart.”

On the 28th day of the Walk of Life, McEachern met a taxi driver whose mother had passed away from a brain tumor. “He thanked me for what I was doing and asked that I never stop walking this Walk. I will not stop walking this Walk or fighting the fight for brain cancer cure and care.”

McEachern is well on his way to meeting his financial goal of $100,000, through the generosity of an anonymous donor at Duke University who has agreed to match every single dollar raised. Donations may still be made via Pay Pal at www.teamtony.org.

This Saturday, June 6th, Tony McEachern and his Walk of Life will come home to Sarasota. Supporters, friends, family, the community, and the media are invited and encouraged to accompany Team Tony on the last leg of this incredible journey. The Team will meet at 5 Points in Downtown Sarasota at approximately 3:15 pm Saturday. The route will take them east on Ringling and south along US 301 / US 41, then west down Bay Road and right into Village Bikes, where a celebration is planned.

ABOUT TONY McEACHERN: After having lost 95% of his left peripheral vision, Tony McEachern lost the ability to comfortably ride a bike, but was still a competitive athlete. Not content to let his spirit fade away, he chose to celebrate his life and reinforce to others that they could too, no matter what particular challenges they faced in their lives. Tony ventured out on a ‘Walk of Life,’ a coast-to-coast 170 mile trek across the state of Florida. “I began to see the walk as a way to touch people from many backgrounds and to ‘pay it forward’ and help others in the way that so many had helped me in dealing with my challenges,” says McEachern. “ My first walk became an entity on its own, lasting 8 days and 7 hours. That walk was just the beginning.”