The Ride returns to raise money for cancer research

Bikers, runners, and walkers spent their Sunday coming together to find a cure to cancer
Bike riders, runners, and walkers gathered Sunday to raise money in the fight against cancer.
Bike riders, runners, and walkers gathered Sunday to raise money in the fight against cancer.(NBC15)
Updated: Sep. 26, 2021 at 5:00 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Thousands of people turned out on Sunday to ride, run, and walk in the hopes of finding a cure to cancer.

The Ride is an event meant to raise funds for cancer research at the University of Wisconsin and Carbone Cancer Center. About 2,400 people participated this year, with all the money raised staying in the Madison community. Since beginning in 2016, The Ride has raised about 1.8 million dollars for cancer research.

This year was Paul Nelson’s first time participating in The Ride. Nelson graduated from UW-Madison, and played football during his time there. While he’s taken part in other fundraisers before, The Ride is personal.

“I wanted to participate in something I thought I could make a difference in,” Nelson said. “This is something that hit home with me, just recently being diagnosed with cancer. I thought in my fight I could help others fight too.”

In May, Nelson was driving to work for his company, RH Batterman, when he felt something was wrong with his vision. However, given that he had woken up around two in the morning and was wearing contacts, he thought he needed some time to wake up, and that his vision would return to normal within a few minutes.

However, as he drove away from home, things only got worse.

“I started going to work, driving to work, and just started losing my vision on the way there,” he said. “I got a little scared, was wondering what was going on, I decided to pull over because I just didn’t think I was going to make it.”

Nelson called his wife and let her know he was coming home, and called his job, where he was working a bridge project, to say he couldn’t come in. That’s when his boss, Lance Wagner, knew something was wrong.

“Paul called us on his way to the bridge saying he wasn’t feeling well, we’re like wow, that’s not like Paul,” Wagner said. “He said he wasn’t going to make it, which, again, is not like Paul. If he makes a commitment, he’s there.”

Nelson just made it back into his driveway when he had a seizure. His wife was able to drag him into the house, where she called 911. Nelson was rushed to UW Hospital, where he underwent testing.

“Initially we didn’t know what it was, I was being treated for a stroke,” Nelson said. “Then they did some scans and realized that I had a brain tumor and that I needed immediate surgery to remove it. That was shocking to say the least.”

Only two days later, Nelson went in for brain surgery, where doctors removed a large portion of a tumor. Later, he found out that tumor was cancer.

“I couldn’t recall one thing that had happened to me prior to that day, losing my vision, that would have indicated anything was wrong with me.”

With the support of his wife, loved ones, and coworkers at RH Batterman, Nelson underwent his first round of chemo and treatments. He is continuing to receive chemo, but says he is grateful for the support of his loved ones. Team Batterman is one of the biggest teams participating in The Ride this year.

“Paul has done anything for our company that we’ve ever asked, and always more than we’ve asked,” Wagner said. “It would be natural for everybody to give back to Paul.”

Nelson said since his diagnosis, he hasn’t been saying no to anything, living his life to the fullest. He said a big reason he’s going to keep on fighting is because he and his wife are expecting their first child this winter.

“There are statistics out there, but none of those statistics include me,” he said. “So I’ve got a chance here, and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”

Nelson said he will be back at The Ride next year, along with his Batterman Team.

At 2:30 p.m., The Ride hosted a Celebration of Life, where leadership for UW, as well as cancer patients and survivors, spoke on the importance of The Ride, and the work UW is doing to find a cure to cancer.

Fore more information on The Ride, click here.

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