Riding for Joe

Riding for Joe


Roger Solomon

As many of you know, in the summer of 2017, our friend Joe Zawielski was found to have a brain tumor. The Shintaido community wrapped itself around him, sending messages, positive energy, and love from all over world. After surgery and treatment, he began his recovery.

That fall, Joe came to a Shintaido Northeast event in Worcester. It was the first time I had seen him since his treatment, and it was very hard for me to see the change in this once vibrant man with seemingly boundless energy. During lunch, he said that he wanted to do the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), the bike ride that raises money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), where he had received his care. At the time, his balance and stamina weren’t great, so I toyed with the idea of partnering with him, perhaps the two of us riding a tandem to complete the ride. I’d known Joe nearly 30 years and this was the least I could do to repay all those years of instruction and friendship.

Joe and Roger kumite

Joe and Roger kumite

Unfortunately, the cancer returned, and his health declined rapidly. Many of us were lucky enough to attend Joe’s last keiko, which was a truly blessed event. On my last visit with Joe before he passed, I asked him if I could ride the PMC in his place. Though he wasn’t able to articulate his answer, Joe started to cry; his wife Deb assured me this meant “Yes!”

I’m riding this year in honor of Joe. I’m doing the one-day Sturbridge to Bourne route, a 108 mile ride. I haven’t attempted a journey of this length in nearly 20 years, but I’ll have the spirit of my friend and sensei whispering “Gambatte!” (Do your best!) in my ear as I ride. My fundraising goal is $4000. Last year the PMC raised $56 million for Dana-Farber; 100% of all rider-raised funds go to directly support DFCI and the Jimmy Fund, the charity which raises money for adult and pediatric cancer care and research at DFCI.

If you care to donate, my PMC webpage is: https://donate.pmc.org/RS0435. Contributions can also be sent to:

Roger Solomon 39602-8
Pan-Mass Challenge
77 Fourth Ave.
Needham, MA 02494

I truly appreciate any help you can give. Thank you!

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