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Toledo news, weather, traffic and sports | Toledo, Ohio, | wtol.com

Leukemia survivor rides bike cross country to save others in need of a bone marrow transplant

64-year-old Bob Falkenberg aims to bike 3,500 miles in a hope to raise funds and have donors sign up with Be The Match.

A 64-year-old leukemia survivor is biking thousands of miles to spread the message of determination for other cancer patients. 

Bob Falkenberg stopped in downtown Toledo on June 9, where he shared the details about his journey to save others who are in need of a bone marrow transplant. 

"I like to tell people I could ride in a circle all day and I'd have a headwind I think," said Falkenberg as he laughed. 

Falkenberg arrived in Toledo after biking nearly 700 miles from Minneapolis, where he started his trip on May 29.

He's a 12-year leukemia survivor thanks to a bone marrow transplant. 

"I consider that my life is better now than it was before because when you go through a life-threatening illness where you have less than a 50/50 chance to get through the whole thing, that really adds perspective to your life," said Falkenberg. 

The avid biker is on a 3,500 mile journey to Jacksonville, Florida. 

His goal is to raise money and awareness for the Be The Match Foundation. 

"We manage the national marrow donor program," said Stacey Chase, senior manager of community fundraising for Be The Match. "So we provide cures for blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, and blood diseases like sickle cell, asplastic anemia. So our mission is really to build the match registry and make sure that we have donors available to say "yes" when a patient needs a match."

Be The Match also provides financial assistance costs not covered by insurance.

But because of the pandemic, that program has fallen short $900,000.

"There can be a lot of costs. And so hospitals will help those patients apply for grants from Be The Match and we typically say yes to every single one of those grants. This year because of COVID, the request for grants have increased by 90 percent," said Chase. 

This is why Bob is riding. 

"You can get through this process. You can get through all that chemo, and all that pre-treatment for the transplant. And the transplant and the isolation afterwards. You can get through it and you can come out the other end like me," said Falkenberg. 

Be The Match says some patients will only have one match and you could be that person to save their lives. That's why Falkenberg is hitting the road to spread the message of hope.

You can follow Falkenberg's journey here on his Facebook page. 

And you can donate on Team Lifeblood's web page here