Cathy Teodosio of Fells Point, shown on a visit to Florida with… (Ellen Teodosio, Baltimore…)
Cathy Teodosio, a 55-year-old special education teacher, has been biking in fundraising events for more than two decades, but next weekend's Ride to Conquer Cancer will be especially personal for her.
In April 2013, her father, Joseph Teodosio, was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Soon after moving from Connecticut to Fells Point in October, she heard about the event — which benefits Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Sibley Memorial and Suburban Hospitals.
"It took several months with the move and his recovery for me to actually sign up for something like this, but I knew I had to do it," Cathy Teodosio said. "He was really the rock of the family, and if it weren't for him I probably wouldn't have entered all these races."
Teodosio has already raised more than the minimum event donation of $2,500 and received a couple of sponsorships to help her make the donations. While she is participating in this event to honor her father, she has biked in many other fundraising events for causes such as cystic fibrosis and breast cancer.
Although her father wasn't a cyclist, Teodosio said she owes much of her success in the sport to her dad, who taught her to work hard and provided motivation.
"When I was training for the Ironman [in 2005 in Florida], I would always visualize him at the end of the race. When I saw him and my mom, I thought I was done with the race, but then my father yells out 'Get up that hill or I'll kick your butt!'" Teodosio said. "He was tough on me, and he definitely helped me during the actual race getting up that last hill."
She says members of her family always stick together and help one another. She started participating in cycling events in 1991 because she bought a buggy for her 2-year-old son to ride in and thought it would be cool to bike in fundraising events with him tagging along.
Now months after surgery, Joseph Teodosio, 80, is cancer-free but still has to go in for a checkup every three months. He and his wife now live in Florida.
While Teodosio thinks it probably won't be as challenging as the Ironman race, she said the Ride to Conquer Cancer is definitely one of the tougher events she has participated in. It's a two-day ride starting Saturday at 7 a.m., and covers 150 miles over hilly areas near Bethesda and Frederick. Part of several annual races that attract thousands of cyclists from around the world, this is the first Ride to Conquer Cancer to be held in Maryland.
Teodosio said she was somewhat worried about participating in such a big event.
"I don't really know what to expect in terms of how big it is. But I'll make sure to just go slow and steady as usual," Teodosio said. "The nice part is that since I moved to Maryland, I've gotten to go on a few trips with the Baltimore Bike Club and really feel like I know the area, kind of like my second home."
Even though Teodosio and her close family members have worried a lot about her father's health, the one thing that keeps her going on the final hill of a race is that no one in her family ever gives up.
"Everyone hears the word cancer and it's like we get sucker-punched," she said. "But like everyone says, our group keeps getting knocked down but we'll keep getting up."