80-year-old cyclist's mission began with a death - and a dream

TACOMA, Wash. - A local man is on a mission to raise money for cancer research - he's achieving that by doing something he loves to honor someone he lost.

Eighty-year-old Bob Stidwell is a cycling nut who's all about the challenge.

"I'm not a kid any more," he admits. But that doesn't slow him down.

"Since about April I've ridden about 500 miles," he says.

But his road hasn't always been smooth. Lately, each mile has a deeper meaning.

It began as his wife Patricia lay dying last year of multiple myeloma. He had a recurring dream night after night during that sad period of his life. The dream became a call to action as he slept alongside his wife's hospital bed.

He wrote out a six-page pledge inspired by the dream - it begins, "I, Robert R. Stidwell, have a dream to honor my wife Pat ...."

Multiple myeloma, the disease that killed his wife and 11,000 other people last year, is a type of blood cancer. But Stidwell says many people have never heard of it.

He wanted to do something. "Literally, how could I, one person, make a difference?" he says.

Stidwell dusted off his bike, donned his helmet and set his wheels in motion.

Every Saturday he rides to different Albertson's stores where he raises money for multiple myeloma research - where he realizes he's not alone.

He was joined Saturday by a younger cyclist, Ed Rickert.

"We also have a really good friend and fellow firefighter named John Mongrief who's suffering a lot from this disease," says Rickert.

Stidwell has raised $14,000 at 11 stores since April.

That's a bit shy of his $1 million goal - a lofty objective, he says, but possible when a man and a mission get in gear.

All of the money he raises will go to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

Next week he'll be at the Albertson's in Gig Harbor starting at 10 a.m.