Arham Shaikh, an Indian cyclist, endurance athlete, and personal trainer from Pune, India, traveled to the U.S. specifically to cycle with Team SuperMarrow in Race Across America, a more than 3,000-mile race. On June 15, starting in Oceanside, Calif., Shaikh, his fellow TSM cyclists, and the crew headed east, at one point climbing 170,000 feet, crossing 12 states, and finishing in Annapolis, Maryland. This is their rookie year and the 8-member team, comprising ages 25 to 66, completed the race in eight days, two hours, and 19 minutes. Funds raised go to the Asian American Donor Program, a nonprofit organization in Alameda, Calif.
At age 25, Shaikh is now the youngest person in the history of India to finish the grueling Race Across America. “I came here alone. At the start we were teammates, but eight days later at the finish we are now a family of 20!” says Shaikh.
“Together we successfully finished the race,” says Dr. Lam Do, the team captain of Team SuperMarrow and a practicing internal medicine physician. “We biked with the common mission to raise awareness for leukemia and registering more potential donors. It’s about saving lives.”
All of Do’s training, experience, and knowledge did not prepare him for the time when his 18-month old son developed leukemia. The unrelated stem cell transplant was successful. Do’s son is now 18 years old and doing well. This is why he formed Team SuperMarrow and why he rides.
RAAM is recognized worldwide as one of the world’s toughest bicycle races, featuring cyclists from around the world. Unlike the three great European Grand Tours (Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and Giro d’Italia), RAAM is not a stage race. RAAM is one continual 24/7 stage. Once the clock starts it does not stop until cyclists cross the finish line. “Moreover, racers must complete the distance with no rest days,” the RAAM website says.
“Since a stem cell match is based upon a person’s ethnic heritage, the chance of finding a donor is often seen as equal to the chance of winning the lottery!” says Do. “We need to have more people of color register. We need to increase awareness and recruitment. Everyone in need of a stem cell donor deserves a match.”
Anirban Acharya, an avid cyclist and explorer from Kolkata, will arrive in California to cycle from San Francisco to several states before cycling in Mexico and South America. “I will spread the word why ethnic diversity on the registry is necessary,” Acharya says. “I hope that during my bike tour, I can motivate people, especially of Indian origin, to register."
“For thousands of severely ill blood cancer patients, there is a cure,” says Carol Gillespie, AADP executive director. “You could be the cure. Those whose stem cells are not a match for a patient in need now may be a match for someone else down the road, anywhere in the world. I encourage multi-ethnic individuals to register. It is simple to register – to get started text the word RAAM to 61474.”
Register online: http://www.teamsupermarrow.org/give/
You must be 18 to 44 years old and meet general health requirements.
Upcoming Registration Drives
Saturday, July 20 from 11 am to 2 pm, Shiva-Vishnu Temple (outside the auditorium), 1232 Arrowhead Ave, Livermore, CA 94551;
Sunday, July 28 from 10 am to 3 pm, El Sobrante Gurdwara, 3550 Hillcrest Rd, El Sobrante, CA 94803.
For more information, call Asian American Donor Program at 1-800-593-6667 or visit http://www.aadp.org