Denise Burke is a loving single mother to her three beautiful children Garret, Taylor and Austin. She resides in Newbury Park with her family and is a Newbury Park High School graduate. Denise works as a social worker, but has been unable to work since she was diagnosed earlier this year with a very rare cancer, called Synovial Sarcoma, in her foot. This unexpected diagnosis has turned Denise and her family’s lives upside down. In July, she had a port inserted on the right side of her chest and started inpatient chemotherapy treatment consisting of five days, six hours per. Denise then had a three-week break to get strong again before her next five day round of treatment in August. Denise’s doctors are recommending an amputation below her knee after she completes her chemotherapy treatments. While going through the chemotherapy treatments, Denise is also doing physical therapy to learn how to use crutches in order to be strong in those skills after the amputation. Following the amputation, she will receive additional physical therapy to get use to balancing and walking on her new prosthetic leg. Denise will continue to endure her treatments and eventual amputation with strength and grace, and support from her family, friends and the Mike Nosco Memorial Bicycle Ride community.
John Van Mannekes is a strong and caring husband, father and firefighter. John was a Fire Captain with the Ventura City Fire Department. He lives in Ventura, California with his wife who works as a job share teacher and two high school age sons. John was an active member of the cycling community for many years. Last year, John was diagnosed with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease). He was a 2016 Mike Nosco Memorial Bicycle Ride recipient and in this past year, the family has had to sell their home and move to a place where John can use his mobility equipment. He has progressed into a power wheelchair and uses a mobility van to get around. John was on sick leave this past year, but is no longer employed as of July 2017 due to his debilitating illness.
Gerhard Gross is married to his wife, Kris and has a new baby boy. The young family recently bought a home in Vista, California. Gerhard has been diagnosed with Stage IV Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer (signet ring), the second leading cause of cancer death (behind lung cancer). Both Gerhard and Kris are working hard, caring for their young son and trying to cope with this devastating diagnosis. The couple will also need to be vigilant for their son, who has a 50/50 chance of carrying the same CDH1 gene mutation as his dad. People with this gene have an 80 percent likelihood of developing stomach cancer at the average age of 38. Gerhard will rely on the strength of his friends and family during this difficult time.
Sam Audenino is a 15-yr-old Sophomore at Newbury Park High. He is an avid mountain biker and has been riding the NP trails and racing downhill for several years, with dreams of turning pro after high school. On July 15, Sam was mountain biking with friends at Big Bear when he suffered a devastating crash. He was airlifted to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to repair his broken back and remove bone fragments that were pressing into his spinal cord. The damage to his spinal cord was significant, leaving Sam paralyzed from the waist down.
Sam is a fighter and is determined that he will walk and ride again. He is working hard at rehab to make that happen and has maintained an extremely positive attitude. Sam faces a long road ahead and a lot of hard work, but he’s ready and willing to give it everything he’s got. He won’t take no for an answer!