2012 Bike Tour Riders and Crew

The Lone Star Circle of Life Team has for the very special task of delivering a message of life throughout Texas. The riders take a week away from their families and jobs to reach out to communities through the state to encourage Texans to become more aware about donation. Each team rider has a special reason to promote donation of either blood, organs, tissue, cord blood or marrow. Each day of the tour, team members rode in honor of a local Texan for their unique contribution either as a donor, a recipient or for their support for the field of donation.

Image of Gary Van Kuiken

Gary Van Kuiken - The Woodlands
Team Captain

Reason for riding: Gary is very aware of the impact of donation through his wife, who has been involved with organ donation for many years through LifeGift in Houston. This is his sixth tour and he rides to help create greater awareness of the importance of signing up to make life giving gifts of organs, tissue, marrow and blood. “In the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to meet many fantastic donors, donor families and recipients of organ, tissue, blood and marrow. Their stories are all very motivational. The need for more donors remains extremely important and the way to increase the number of donors is through increased awareness."

Image of Becky Canal

Becky Canal - Tyler

Reason for riding: "I have always found the LSCOL to be such a blessing for the years we had with Josh and sharing his story. This year will be bitter sweet, but I know this is just what Josh would want me to do. Josh has gone full circle in that he was a recipient, but he was also able to donate. My heart is still to spread the word about donation because it gave us 13 wonderful years with a very special young man."

Image of Joe Canal

Joe Canal - Tyler

Reason for riding: "I want to ride the Lone Star Circle of Life Bike tour to honor my son, Josh Canal, who was both a recipient and donor."

Image of Tim Dixon

Tim Dixon - Huntsville

Reason for riding: Tim spends a good deal of time speaking with families about the positive role organ and tissue donation plays for those during the end of life process. As a funeral director, he also continually helps tissue banks have a positive voice to encourage tissue donation.

Image of Barry Haarde

Barry Haarde - The Woodlands

Reason for riding: Barry Haarde has severe hemophilia type A and is a 30+ year HIV survivor, contracted through the use of blood products in the early 1980s. He has also lived with hepatitis C, recently cured, from which he has liver cirrhosis. Barry also has peripheral neuropathy and a total knee replacement. He has lost a brother and brother-in-law to liver failure from hepatitis C and AIDS respectively.

Medical problems notwithstanding, Barry has ridden in ten MS150s and has cycled over 13,000 miles in the last sixteen months in preparation for an upcoming 3,700 mile bike tour across the United States. The tour, from Astoria, OR to Portsmouth, NH will raise funds for a hemophilia organization as well to as to help to educate others about HIV and erase the stigma and misconceptions associated with the disease.

Barry is proud to join the Circle of Life tour, as both blood and organ donation have played a vital role in his life along everyone else in the hemophilia community.

Image of Cindy Johnson

Cindy Johnson - Winston Salem, North Carolina

Reason for riding: Cindy's son, Andy, was born with an immune deficiency and was unable to make his own red blood cells. As he grew, his bone marrow failed to make platelets as well. Andy received a marrow transplant from his brother, Brad, when he was three years old. Brad’s marrow donation gave Andy an additional 16 years of life.

"I know of no better way to honor our son, Brad, and the memory of our son, Andy, than to spread the awareness of the need for blood and platelet donations, organ and tissue donations, cord blood donations and joining the Be The Match Registry!"

Image of Bonnie Kwan

Bonnie Kwan - San Antonio

Reason for riding: Being a heart transplant recipient, Bonnie wants to encourage fellow transplant recipients to return to mainstream living and to inspire them to set goals and achieve them physically, mentally and spiritually.

"I feel especially grateful for this opportunity and have an unfathomable sense of obligation to my donor and donor family to live my life to it's fullest!"

Image of Michael Kwan

Michael Kwan - San Antonio

Reason for riding: "I've been aware of the Lone Star Circle of Life for over 7 years, and have been involved in transplants since the mid-1990's. I've seen the Gift of Life in action, and I've seen transplant recipients accomplish things that neither they nor their transplant teams ever imagined, and am honored to ride alongside some of those amazing people. I've also seen people who never made it to transplant, and the tragedy of the loss. If by riding I can convince only one person to give the Gift of Life and save up to 8 other lives, then this will have been worth every mile."

Image of Kenneth Mireles

Kenneth Mireles - Spring

Reason for riding:  "The greatest gift that someone can give of themselves is the gift of life....with it comes hope and new life. The reason that I ride with the Lone Star Circle of Life is because if we can touch one persons heart to donate, then we have given someone new hope for another day. I want to ride for those heroes that have given of themselves and those that have struggled to live one more day."

Image of Rich Oropeza

Rich Oropeza - Lewisville

Reason for riding: Rich was in the audience at one of the early Lone Star Circle of Life tours and heard the riders' message and took that message to heart. "Before I learned about the tour, I did not pay much attention to the importance of being a donor. My wife works at a children's hospital where lives are saved due to others giving the gift of life. I now make it part of my daily schedule to encourage others to donate or at least sign up for the marrow donor registry. This is my ninth year to participate in the Lone Star Circle of Life tour. Giving someone the chance to live a better life through blood, organ, tissue and marrow donation is the greatest gift we can share with one another.

Image of Sarah Pipkin

Sarah Pipkin - San Angelo

Reason for riding: I had my first open heart surgery at two weeks of age. Following the surgery, my heart continued to grow with me just like it should. I consider myself to be very blessed! Throughout school, I played many sports, but concentrated on Soccer. I was recruited to play college soccer and began biking.

My doctor began discussing a heart transplant more seriously during college. When I went into a-fib in 2009, my life was forever changed. I was put on the heart transplant list and was blessed with a 14 year-old boy’s heart. As soon as I could, I was running again and I was allowed to start playing soccer once again about five months after the transplant. In March, after meeting Dillon’s (my donor) family, he and I ran in a half marathon and later we competed in our first triathlon.

I am very honored to be given an opportunity to spread the word about the need for organ donations through the Lone Star Circle of Life!

Image of Melissa Symes

Melissa Symes - Frisco

Reason for riding: "My reason for riding this year is for a true hero. One that I had the privilege of baby sitting, hanging out with, laughing with, worshipping the Lord with and being related to: my nephew, Josh Canal. Watching Josh's journey was life changing for me. He suffered much, and yet when I walked away from a visit with him, I was the one encouraged and challenged. He taught me to be positive and content in any situation. I became an organ/tissue/marrow donor because of Josh , believing I can bring hope to others as he did. In memory of Josh."

Image of Keith Steward

Keith Steward - Gatesville
Head Support

Keith has been involved in the Lone Star Circle of Life since 2000, first as a team member, later a team captain for two years and more recently heading up the support team.

In January of 2007, Keith received a kidney transplant from his friend and Lone Star Circle of Life teammate, Shari Miller. "I want to be a part of the tour to help those that are awaiting a transplant to know that there are many who are working to enlist donors so that they can have a better quality of life.

Image of Bill Percell

Bill Percell - New Braunfels
Team Mechanic

This will be the fourth year Bill has been with the Lone Star Circle of Life. As our team mechanic, he keeps everyone rolling strong!

Image of Pam Canal

Pam Canal - Tyler
General Support

"Being a part of the team is a dream come true for me. For the past nine years, I have been honored to be a part of the ceremonies and see my wonderful husband, Josh Canal, be recognized. We always talked and wanted to be a part of something that was able to touch so many people for this awesome cause. I have now been on both sides of the transplant family and want to now be able to share my story and carry on the legacy of our hero Josh!"

Debbie Fendrick

Debbie Fendrick - Temple
Pace Car

This is the sixth year Debbie has been on support team for the Lone Star Circle of Life, but she has been volunteering for various areas of the tour for many more years. She volunteers for the Scott & White Pediatric Hematology/Oncology team by assisting at Camp Dreamcatcher, a camp for children with cancer.

Image of Chris Oropeza

Chris Oropeza - Lewisville
Pace Car

This is the third year that Chris has been on the support team for the Lone Star Circle of Life. She is a nurse at a children's hospital in Dallas, and has seen the importance of blood donation as well as marrow, organ and tissue transplantation. Chris is the wife of team member,  Rich Oropeza.

Holly Mabry

Holly McCoy - Austin

Holly has been a volunteer with several of the Texas Donor Centers of the National Marrow Donor Program, holding her first registration drive when she was in Temple High School and continuing throughout her college years at Texas Tech University. This will be Holly's seventh Lone Star Circle of Life Bike Tour.

She currently works for Senator Florence Shapiro in the office of the Texas Senate Committee on Education.

Debbie Mabry

Debbie Mabry - Temple

Debbie has been the manager of the Scott & White Marrow Donor Program since its inception in 1994. She serves as the coordinator of the Lone Star Circle of Life bike tour.

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