Brentwood’s Norm Cohen, above, enjoys training on Saturday mornings for “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride” with his teammates. Supporting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Lake Tahoe century ride will take place in June.
Like much of the country during the pandemic, Brentwood’s Norm Cohen sought a passion to distract him while living with shelter-in-place rules.
It was then that he was drawn back into his love of bicycling. It didn’t take long before he was racking up miles on the road and starting on a new quest by combining his passion with helping others.
“I’m adding meaning to my miles by raising funds,” Cohen said. “I began riding again to focus on that passion.”
Last year Cohen and a group of his co-workers at Blue Shield decided to start a cycling team to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). The team became part of the San Francisco Bay Area Team in Training (TNT). In 2022 the Bay Area TNT, with 100 plus members, beat the fundraising record of all TNT groups and brought in more than $660,000.
“The Bay Area team was riding for 14 honored teammates (survivors and fighters of blood cancers),” said Christina Hannon McKenna, an LLS staffer and team manager. “They were extra-motivated to reach for additional Impact Awards, which allow them to name a grant in honor or memory of someone impacted by blood cancer following reaching $100,000 in funds raised.
“When the team hit $500,000, they just kept going, setting higher and higher goals. When the team realized they were only $60,000 below the all-time TNT fundraising record, they pushed forward again. They are now the highest fundraising team in Team In Training history, having raised $660,433.40 in a single season.”
Cohen doesn’t closely know anyone who personally has suffered or died from leukemia or lymphoma but has interacted with and met many people and families in his line of work who have.
“Blood cancer is random,” he said. “Fortunately, generosity is not.”
As a San Francisco Bay Area TNT member, Cohen has reached out to friends and acquaintances through LinkedIn and to to fellow cyclists through local clubs and social media. His personal goal is $5,000, of which he has raised more than $4,300. He, of course, would like to exceed his goal to help his teammates at TNT raise their $700,000 goal this year. The team has reached 49% of their goal at $346,029.
At the same time, Cohen and his Blue Shield teammates ride out every Saturday on different treks throughout Contra Costa County and the East Bay. They are training for the Bay Area TNT’s event, “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride,” a 104-mile bicycle ride that will take place around Lake Tahoe and Truckee on June 4.
“This is going to be my most challenging ride with a lot of up-hills and descending hills,” Cohen said. “We’re working hard for those who have to work harder with cancer.”
Cohen admits that to look at him, you wouldn’t see someone who is a professional athlete or cyclist. He has trained and ridden “century” bike tours before, though, and has helped to fundraise for charities in bicycle riding events.
The TNT group will also host an April 30 music event in downtown Napa featuring live music, a silent auction, food and drinks. Tickets are available online at napa-wine-experience.cheddarup.com.
“It is amazing to help out the families suffering with leukemia or lymphoma,” he said.
Cohen would like to ask anyone who can help or wishes to get involved to check out the San Francisco Bay Area TNT webpage at pages.lls.org/tnt/gba/ambbr23/TeamSFBay or his personal page at pages.lls.org/tnt/oak/ambbr23/NCohen.
Fundraising dinner: The Rotary Club of Oakley will host its fourth annual “Evening Under the Stars” on May 13 at La Grande Estates. All proceeds from the event will benefit the club’ss local community through service projects, local grants, and scholarships.
The event will feature dinner catered by Brentwood Fine Meats, dancing, raffles, a silent auction, a dessert auction, a live auction and a door prize. Tickets are $65 each. For more information, go to eventbrite.com/e/534057338877.
Roni Gehlke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.