To Amy Meyer, life was a ride to be enjoyed, so it’s fitting to many that her legacy is an annual ride that brings happiness to participants and recipients of its generosity.
The 10th annual Amy Meyer bike ride takes place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, with stops at various locations including the home base of the VFW Post 1565, 1415 Grandview Ave., Muscatine.
“Amy was a kind and giving and loving person that was friends to everyone she met,” said her friend, Dawn Sturms Dodds, one of the original and current organizers of the event. “She was a foster parent and teacher, a sister, a cousin, a friend, and brought joy to everybody that she met. Amy always wanted to be at the center of all the action and she loved being around people. She was a giver and her column in the Journal allowed her to reach out to a lot of people that she might not have had the opportunity to do so for that. She was always really positive even through all of her battles with cancer and she was always very comforting to other people even when she was going through some hard times.”
In the nine years the ride has taken place, organizers have raised over $30,000, which has gone to various projects supporting families dealing with the difficulties of cancer, including the most recent, Chemo Care Project.
“You have to say that she would be smiling down on the amount of people that have come together to support cancer victims or even family members or friends that have been impacted by cancer as well,” Sturms Dodds said. “It started as a conversation over some adult beverages and kind of just grew from just her friends riding to each year growing sometimes doubling or tripling our original numbers.”
The majority of the funds raised have gone to Gilda’s Club of the Quad Cities, an organization that Amy held near and dear to her heart. The ride has purchased games, crafts, tool sets, a craft cabinet and more to fill needs that Gilda’s has suggested. The ride also had direct correlation with Gilda’s opening an office in Muscatine.
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“We love being a part of it,” said Kelly Hendershot, program manager for Gilda’s Club. “Amy was a member of Gilda’s before I had the pleasure of being a member, but I’ve been happy to be a part of the ride and her legacy. It’s just a wonderful feeling to be a part of this. Not just as an organization, but to see people seeing the impact it makes.
“Grassroots events like this are a big part of Gilda’s Club, and this is one of the best,” Hendershot said. “It really helps raise awareness of the significant presence Gilda’s has in Muscatine and all that we have to offer, for free, to help people. It’s just wonderful to be a part of this event with so many amazing people.”
Meyers graduated from Iowa State University in 1990 with degrees in elementary and early childhood education and she received her master’s degree in education in 2004 from Western Illinois University. She taught elementary school in Muscatine and cared for foster children until 2006.
In 2004, Meyers was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She became a local spokeswoman for cancer awareness and described her ongoing experiences with cancer in her column, The Good News, in the Muscatine Journal which she began writing in 1997.
In November 2006 hundreds of people attended a benefit to help Amy pay for her medical expenses. She passed away February 28, 2008, at Genesis Hospital in Davenport, at age 40. However, her legacy lives on in the event bearing her name, Strums Dodds said.
“We’re really happy with how much it's grown, the support from the entire community and we feel like we have really impacted people in a positive way,” Sturms Dodds said. “We decided that we're young enough that we still have a couple more years in us. And we hope that we can continue to raise thousands of dollars a year for Gilda's, to support them in Muscatine. We also love how it brings the community together for this really fun event that supports Amy and her memory.”