Jason Shuker is riding his bike across the United States this summer in memory of former Durham College professor Gerald Rose.
He is raising money by Racing Across America (RAAM) and has partnered with Pancreatic Cancer Canada to bring awareness to the disease that claimed the life of his father-in-law, Gerald (Gerry) Rose.
Rose was the editor of the Chronicle for 23 years at Durham College. He died on January 9, 2017.
Gerry Rose and grandson Sam.
Melanie Rose, Gerry’s daughter, says her dad loved teaching as he loved working with young people.
“He wanted everyone to do well and achieve their goals,“ she says.
Melanie and Jason were married for 12 years and have been separated for the past four years, but are still very close. He considers her his best friend and biggest supporter.
“I can’t thank her enough for our wonderful children,” says Shuker, 46,, adding Melanie is an amazing person and great daughter.
“I have so much respect for him. I couldn’t call him Gerry, I called him Mr. Rose,” says Shuker. “Pancreatic cancer is on the rise. Each year 5,200 (people) are diagnosed and from that 93 per cent will die within five years.”
There is no early detection, however, symptoms can be aches and pains and pain in the stomach. He urges everyone to get a checkup.
“Doing the race is away to give back as he [Rose] was a big part of my life,” Shuker says.
Melanie adds “Jason was very close to my dad. When he started riding my dad was very supportive.”
Melanie says her dad was very active. He was a marathon runner and also offered encouragement to others to exercise and keep moving.
Shuker, a father of two, started cycling five years ago and grew to love the freedom on the road. The RAAM event is 5,000 kilometres, crossing 12 states. The race starts in Oceanside, Calif. June 12 and ends in Annapolis, Md.
Shuker will be a solo rider with a team of six helping him along the way.
“I have the easiest job, I just have to pedal the bike,” he says.
Cyclists have 12 days to finish, completing up to 600 kilometres a day, with a 15-minute break every three to six hours.
“The team is here to get me to the start of the line and across the country to the finish line. Also, to help and to maintain my mental stability,” says Shuker.
Shuker says he’s proud of the support he has received from his children, daughter Sophie, 14, and son Sam, 10, and the people he works with. Sophie was close with ‘Papa’, which is what they called their grandfather. For Sam, Papa was the tops. He was real close with his grandkids, he would get down on the floor and play with them, says Shuker.
Gerry Rose had said when he retired he would spend more time with them.
“That’s what hurts the most,” says Shuker, adding, “he did not get time to spend with them.”
Shuker says what he has also learned is “life is an experience, go and enjoy it, go and enjoy life.”