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Release: June 14, 2000

Iowa City man rides bicycle to raise cancer awareness

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Dan Packard has a tent, biking gear and information about cancer prevention with him. This will be his equipment across four states, over rough terrain, smooth pavement and a 2,600-mile trek.

"The Extra Mile Bike Ride," developed by Packard, a nursing assistant at the University of Iowa Cancer Center, will raise awareness about prevention and early detection of cancer, a disease that will take hold of a half a million American lives this year.

Packard's solo journey began June 12 in Portland, Ore. He will finish his trip by joining RAGBRAI, a bike ride across Iowa. He will meet with the UI Cancer Center's Mobile Van in Ottumwa, along the RAGBRAI route, to disseminate information about cancer prevention.

Packard, who is also a student assistant with the UI Cancer Information Service, will stop at various towns along the route to present information about cancer detection and prevention to the public and local media. Topics to be covered include diet tips, the importance of self-examination for breast and testicular cancer, as well as medical tests, such as the PSA (prostate specific antigen) exam and mammography.

"The purpose of this ride is to make people aware of how to detect cancer," Packard said. "I want people to understand that the earlier they catch the disease, the better off they are."

Boise, Idaho, the Creators of the Moon National Monument, Yellowstone Park, and Casper, Wyo. will provide a backdrop for the journey Packard feels compelled to make based on his clinical experiences and personal life. Packard, who will be an osteopathic medicine student next semester in Des Moines, understands the importance of early detection. He has met with many people in the UI Cancer Center who would have benefited from early detection, and his interaction with cancer patients has given him reason to pursue an educational cause.

"My experiences working at health fairs, with students and patients, have shown me that there is a lot of useful information here that people don't know about. I want to use my education to try to promote awareness of cancer," Packard said.

The ride will last about 40 days. Packard is physically prepared for the challenge as a long-time cyclist and RAGBRAI participant.

In order to support his ride, Packard has received contributions from several local businesses and individuals that have donated money or biking equipment in recognition of his efforts. The UI Cancer Center and the American Cancer Society are providing Packard with educational materials for his trip. All funds not used to support the ride will be given to the UI Cancer Center to further ongoing cancer education.

For more information on how to make a donation to "The Extra Mile Bike Ride," please call the UI Cancer Information Service at (800) 237-1225.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.