Kent firefighter supports fight against cancer by bicycling

Sara Macho

Kent Firefighter Gary Lane and 40 other individuals throughout Northern Ohio will cycle 102 miles around Lake Tahoe and Truckee, Calif., this summer to support the fight against blood cancers.

They make up the Northern Ohio chapter of Team In Training, a division of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The society is a national non-profit charitable health organization dedicated to finding cures for various blood cancers. Leukemia is a disease that affects white blood cells.

Lane is riding in honor of Alyssa Baynes, the 7-year-old daughter of Kent Firefighter Shawn Baynes. Alyssa was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002. She is currently in remission.

The Team In Training program has 63 chapters throughout the country. Each fall and spring, the chapters meet in a designated location and participate in the volunteer bike ride.

Team In Training was created in 1988 when Bruce Cleland formed a team that raised funds and trained in honor of his daughter. The team raised $322,000 for its local chapter. This organization is the original charitable athletic-endurance training program.

Now, each person must raise $4,400 to participate in the bike ride. The society takes out a nominal amount, roughly 25 percent, for airfare, hotel accommodations and entry fees.

The rest goes directly to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to aid in patient research and services, said Benny Antognoli, a training coach for the Northern Ohio chapter of the team.

The society helps individuals in any fundraising endeavors, said Dennis Burke, cycling coach for the Northern Ohio chapter of the society.

With help from the society, Lane set up a personal Web site in which individuals can make a tax-deductible donation by credit card. So far, he has collected $525. Lane’s Web site is

Team members also meet monthly to discuss fundraising strategies and attend group fundraising events, Antognoli said.

In order to prepare for the bike ride, Team In Training volunteers work with a certified coach who gives everyone an individual training program.

Lane said the chapter will meet this weekend at Fisher’s Restaurant in Peninsula to complete a 12.5-mile ride.

“As coaches, we just want to help everyone be successful,” Antognoli said. “We want folks to have a good time while raising money for blood cancers.”

Antognoli said last year more than $75 million was raised nationally. The Northern Ohio Chapter raised $816,270 to support blood cancers.

Antognoli, also a member of the board of trustees for the Northern Ohio chapter of the society, began coaching in the summer of 1999. Prior to coaching, he had participated in Team In Training in the spring of 1999. He had always rode in honor of an assigned cancer patient. It wasn’t until March 2002 that his dedication turned extremely personal.

His daughter, Lauren, now a junior at Dennison, was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Lymphoma is an uncontrolled and excessive growth of any of the colorless cells found in the blood, lymph and lymphnoid tissues.

Lauren has been in remission for three years.

“Before, I rode in honor of people I didn’t know personally. Now I do it for her,” Antognoli said.

Program participants said they enjoy helping individuals afflicted with blood cancers.

“It’s an opportunity to help people you don’t even know,” Antognoli said. “It also gives people the opportunity to do something good and makes others aware of the cause.”

The Northern Ohio chapter of Team In Training is still accepting volunteers to participate in this 102-mile ride. Contact Antognoli at 330-673-2550 or visit for more information.

Contact public affairs reporter Sara Macho at [email protected].