Naperville man to ride in CowaLUNGa Bike Tour in memory of his dad
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To support Naperville resident Johnathon Cook in his fundraising efforts or to offer words of encouragement, go to www.lungchicago.org/johnathoncook. To learn more about CowaLUNGa, visit www.lungchicago.org/cowalunga.
On Aug. 4, Johnathon Cook of Naperville will join more than 200 cyclists at the starting line of CowaLUNGa Bike Tour in Gurnee. Hosted by Respiratory Health Association, the ride raises awareness and more than $200,000 for lung disease research and programs. Like many CowaLUNGa riders, Cook was drawn to the event because of the cause: his father passed away from lung cancer in May.
Cook’s father, Dale Cook, first noticed symptoms in November; he was losing weight and had a persistent cough. He was originally diagnosed with pneumonia, but when Johnathon noticed a drastic change in his dad’s personality two months later, he knew something was wrong.
“My father had always been an engaging person,” Johnathon said. “He knew a little bit about everything and could hold a conversation with anyone. But, suddenly he was in deep thought most of the time, and when he wasn’t, he couldn’t even express himself because his speech and thought process were being affected by something.”
Dale went to the emergency room, where a CT scan and MRI revealed a tumor on his brain and several small tumors on his left lung. He had stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer, a disease with a five-year survival rate of less than 1 percent.
“When we heard the treatment options, we knew whatever we chose would just prolong the inevitable,” Johnathon said.
Dale had surgery to remove the brain tumor and started radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
Unfortunately, two months later, he had a stroke, and his health quickly declined. He passed away in his and wife Cherryl’s home in Hinkley at age 53. It was Mother’s Day.
Johnathon was inspired to do something in memory of his father, and weeks later, he signed up for CowaLUNGa to raise funds for Respiratory Health Association’s lung cancer research and tobacco cessation programs. The one-, two- or three-day ride runs from northern Illinois to southern Wisconsin with a scenic route, rest stops and overnight sites.
Johnathon will ride one day of the tour alone, but his wife, Angie, will follow the route to cheer him on. He is looking forward to being surrounded by a community of riders with one common goal.
“Being part of an event like CowaLUNGa, you learn you’re not the only one who’s had to go through something like this,” Johnathon said. “Any money that can be raised for research or preventative programs to keep young adults from smoking is beneficial. Every little bit helps.”
Courtesy of the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago