Alec Fraser and Jamie Meehan, along with a group of about 15 members of Team Julian, departed on their bicycles from Old Greenwich under sunny skies Sunday morning. With a welcome break from the recent heatwave, a crowd of about 150 gathered at Rocky Point Club for a sendoff for the group.
Day 1 of Fraser and Meehan’s cross-country bike ride started with a 40 mile ride to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, about 40 miles away in New York City.
They are part of Cycle for Survival, a movement to beat rare cancers. The coast-to-coast bike ride is in honor of Alec’s son Julian, who lost his life at the age of 20 to osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
Fraser and Meehan plan to cycle through 17 states, for a total of 4,650 miles. Their destination is Santa Clara, CA, where Julian attended college.
The bike ride is self-funded, so all donations raised in the coast-to-coast ride will benefit Cycle for Survival, and 100% of the money raised will go directly to research led by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Cycle for Survival was created in 2007. This year is the 6th year Team Julian has participated, and the Fraser family and friends have raised more than $500,000.
The tide was low as the two friends steered their bikes down a ramp to the dock where they ceremoniously dipped their wheels into Long Island Sound to mark the start of their coast-to-coast journey.
As he prepared to accompany Fraser and Meehan on the first leg of the their journey, John Palmer, a close friend, recalled how the Old Greenwich community came together when Julian was in the hospital.
Julian, all-American swimmer, water polo player, and captain of the Greenwich High School swim and water polo teams, graduated in 2014. He was a sophomore at Santa Clara University, where he played Division I water polo, when he lost his battle with cancer in 2017.
“When Julian was in the hospital, this whole community – Rocky as well as all of Greenwich – was unbelievable,” Palmer said. “We did a lot of biking after Julian – it was a sort of therapy for Alec. We have a close knit group of about 20 guys who do a lot of riding.”
“We’re all very good friends. My oldest son is roommates with Cristy and Alec’s oldest son,” Palmer added.
Palmer said that after a press conference at MSK later on Sunday, Fraser and Meehan planned to take a ferry to Red Bank, New Jersey, and ride a bit further in the evening.
In addition to the ride from Old Greenwich to Memorial Sloan Kettering, Palmer said he planned to fly out west to join Fraser and Meehan for the last leg of their journey, a 50 mile ride from San Francisco to Santa Clara, in time for the Julian Fraser Memorial Water Polo Tournament on October 21.
Bill Kelly, the past president of the Rocky Point Club from 2015-19, recalled first learning the news about Julian’s diagnosis. He said Julian’s mother Cristy had been on the club’s board of governors at the time, but had to step down to take care of her family.
“We, as a board, struggled as to what we would do, how we would do it – what could we do?” Kelly said. “We worked with her very good friends and came up with the idea for the Julian Fraser Memorial Board. It contains all the records of Rocky Point. In fact, today it contains the name of an Olympian.”
“This is great to have the whole Rocky family here supporting you,” Kelly said. “I hope you feel the love and it propels you as you get out west where the mountains are.”
State Rep Steve Meskers said he was honored to bear witness to the send off. He recalled working with Cristy Fraser at Irving Trust back in 1985, and reconnecting with her in 1996 in line at DMV.
“What I’m bearing witness to today is the incredible love of a community and the dedication of a family that can take a crisis and move it to some place beautiful,” Meskers said. “You don’t realize what inspiration you are to all of us and what we do in our lives, to move us forward, and remember that joy comes in the morning.”
Alec talked about Julian’s battle with osteosarcoma.
“Osteosarcoma is a really pernicious disease,” he said. “The bone cells just replicate themselves uncontrollably and flow like lava out of a volcano, pinching his spinal nerve endings and all over his body. Throughout all of that Julian was incredibly brave, incredibly stoic and so grateful to the wonderful doctors and nurses at Memorial Sloan Kettering.”
“His coach at Santa Clara said, ‘I’ve never had a player who was so beloved by his teammates and was so great at bringing all the team together.’ That’s really how I’ll remember Julian.”
“We want this event to be a life affirming, positive event,” he continued. “We want to share our experience with you. We want you to share our experience with your friends, your family and people who might be affected by cancer and really make this a communal thing. We want you all to feel invited to Team Julian.”
To learn more about Team Julian and the coast-to-coast bike ride benefiting Cycle for Survival please visit teamjf.org or to make a donation, visit bit.ly/TeamJF4Cure. To reach Team Julian directly, email [email protected] To follow their progress, follow on Instagram @TeamJF and Facebook @TeamJF4Cure.