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Monday, July 23, 2012

Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team Rides for American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life"

Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team Rides for American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life"
By:  Michael G. Lander
This article was originally written on January 28, 2011.

Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team riding for "Relay for Life" in honor of Sherry Boyer Simmons.  From left to right:  Col Harry D. Montgomery, Jr., SSgt Kim Jones, MSgt David Joachim, Wendy Joachim, TSgt Chris Kubitz, (Retired CMSgt) Michael Lander, SSgt Efrem "Mo" Mosely, SMSgt Deanne Davis, and MSgt Kim Moore.
Most of us have been touched in one way or another by what cancer has done to one or more of those who we know and love.  The Tennessee Air National Guard (TNANG) decided it would organize a ride on behalf of their friend Sherry Boyer Simmons after she was diagnosed with this disease.

Initially the idea for the ride, scheduled for Saturday, October 16, 2010, in Rossville, Tenn., was meant to show Sherry the love and support that she had from her many friends, but unfortunately, she did not live but 32 days from the time that she was diagnosed to the time that she ultimately lost her battle with this disease."
Sherry was a very special person who enthusiastically embraced life and all of those around her and she was extremely committed to the Tennessee Air National Guard.

In March 2010, she was recognized for all of her efforts when she received the Tennessee National Guard Distinguished Patriot Medal at a combined National Guard and Enlisted Association of Tennessee conference in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  It was very obvious to the hundreds of servicemen and women in the audience that night, that it meant everything in the world to Sherry when she received this medal.  As she tearfully accepted the medal, she spoke openly and sincerely of her love for the unit and for those in it. She spoke of her father’s service to the unit, her husband’s, and her two sons who had themselves recently enlisted. 

Instead of abandoning the idea of a ride after the loss of their friend, the cycling team chose instead to do a "Sherry Boyer Simmons Memorial Bike Ride" to celebrate and honor the memory of Simmons. To help others avoid a fate similar to Sherry’s, the team vowed to solicit pledges and donations to be donated to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Desoto County, Mississippi where she and her family lived.
Members of the team rode as many as 45 miles on an unseasonably cold October morning for their fallen friend.

Along for the ride that day were cyclists SMSgt Deanne Davis, MSgt David Joachim, MSgt Kim Moore and SSgt Kim Jones.  TSgt Chris Kubitz, SSgt Efrem "Mo" Moseley and Wendy Joachim provided support to the riders and the 164th Airlift Wing Commander, Col Harry D. Montgomery, Jr., was there to thank each of them and to see the cyclists off as they rode out.

On Tuesday, January 25, 2011, I presented a check to the American Cancer Society "Relay for Life" of Desoto County, Mississippi for $1,200.00 on behalf of the TNANG Cycling Team.  As I said at Relay for Life event, "It was a great feeling for our cycling team to be able to support such a great cause and it was one of the main reasons that many of us got into cycling in the first place."

The unit's cycling team was established in April 2009 after I had developed a passion for the sport and was eager to share my love for it with others.  More than anything, however, I saw this as an opportunity for the base to ride for various charitable organizations, to promote fitness, and to present a positive image of the TNANG unit to the local community. Since 2009, one or more members of the team has ridden for charities both locally and nationally including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center, and the Wounded Warrior Project.

While members of the team have many duties and military-related commitments that sometimes make it difficult for them to be able to train and to consistently ride their bikes, their interest in riding for charitable causes remains strong.  This is especially true for causes like the American Cancer Society and Sherry would be happy to know that we are doing this and that she has been the inspiration for us to do something good for others.

Relay for Life is the signature fundraising event of the American Cancer Society.  It began in 1985 and has developed into a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and to fight back against an often deadly disease. 

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those with cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated. 
To get involved with Relay for Life of Desoto County, Miss, you can email

For more information on Relay for Life, or the American Cancer Society,  you can call 1-800-ACS-2345 or you can go to

Retired CMSgt Michael Lander, on the right, presenting a check on behalf of the Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team to the American Cancer Society "Relay for Life" on January 25, 2011.  Receiving this check for the American Cancer Society is retired SMSgt Harry Grubbs.

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