• Sun October 22 2006
  • Posted Oct 22, 2006
LAWLER - Following a "cancer scare" in early 2006, a Marion man took a 500-mile solo bike tour, dedicating the ride to a brother who had succombed to the disease. Von Ketelsen, whose name and voice will be remembered in this area as the radio farm news broadcaster on KOEL Oelwein, rode from Anamosa to Rochester, MN and back, to recognize cancer victims such as his brother, Jack Ketelsen. "Jack was my oldest brother," said Ketelsen. "He died of leukemia in November 1962, just days after his 18th birthday. I was born in May 1962, but I feel I know him. Jack was active in 4-H, served on the Student Council at school, was an American Legion Boys Stater and an excellent drummer and singer. The typical, All-American boy." Earlier this year, a lump on Ketelsen's lymph nodes was checked for cancer. "I had to go back again and again, checked and rechecked several times. Thankfully, no cancer was found," said Ketelsen. "It was a wake-up call. I promised I would do something to help fight cancer. Being between jobs right now, I decided to do this ride in memory of my brother." Ketelsen chose to begin his ride from the family farm near Anamosa in Jones County. "My parents spent 65 years of married life and raised our family on the farm, and I thought it was an appropriate place to start," explained Von. Beginning on Sunday, September 24, attired in bright clothes and pulling a small trailer filled with camping items behind his bike, Ketelsen's travels took him through Jones, Dubuque, Delaware, Clayton, Allamakee and Winneshiek Counties, arriving in Rochester, MN on September 30. On the return trip, Ketelson traveled through Howard, Chickasaw, Fayette, Buchanan, Black Hawk and Benton counties. After a stop in Lawler on October 4 to meet this reporter, Von was heading to Fredericksburg and Sumner, then the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area. "I love George Wyth Park and will camp there and then take the nature trail back to Marion," said Von. "After that, I am adding a week to the ride, going on to Ames for a few days." Ketelsen is also hoping to raise awareness for Hope Lodge, which is free lodging for adult cancer patients and their caregivers. While in Rochester, Von toured the Hope Lodge, one of 22 in the United States. "Iowa needs a Hope Lodge. The University of Iowa has donated land next to the Ronald McDonald House on which to build a Hope Lodge and the fundraising process is in full swing, "said Ketelsen. "We've given this bicycle journey the name 'Biking to Build Hope'." Russ Gerdin, head of Heartland Trucking in Iowa City, while undergoing treatment for cancer, stayed at the Hope Lodge in Rochester. "He was staying at a hotel at first," said Von, "and wasn't comfortable and satisfied, so he stayed at Hope Lodge. He was so impressed that he has given a $2 million challenge grant to building one in Iowa City and we have until the end of 2007 to match the funds. When they have the groundbreaking, I want to be there and will peddle down there for it!" Von enjoys reading, especially historical biographies and fiction. "Barnes and Noble is my second home," he smiled. "I am active in my church and a member of the Masons. The Masons are strongly supporting the building of Hope Lodge." He is also a writer, and is considering returning to school for a Master's Degree in Journalism. Von has enjoyed his ride immensely. "I love northeast Iowa. It was home for over ten years," he said. "During the ride, I have talked to so many nice people, been invited to stay in their homes. So many have had cancer or know someone who has. There is so much cancer in the midwest. My Dad and uncle, both farmers, had melonoma. This ride was something I wanted and needed to do." For more information on Hope Lodge or persons interested in donating to the Hope Lodge campaign contact Marcia Holley, 1-888-266-2071, ext. 7104. Story and photo by Elaine Denner, Features Editor, New Hampton Tribune. Contact Elaine at 641.394.2111

  • Source:
  • Author:
  • Posted By:








Related Sponsors