Len Forkas of Vienna, Va., CEO of Hopecam, to raise funds while riding 3,000 miles cross country

7:23 PM, Jun 6, 2012   |    comments
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SPRINGFIELD, Va.  (WUSA) - What Len Forkas is about to do sounds completely insane. This 53-year-old father of two from Vienna plans to ride his bike 3000 miles across county in only ten days, getting only four hours of sleep a night.

"I'll be riding 20 hours a day, 250 to 300 miles a day for ten days, " said Forkas. He is the only solo competitor from the D.C. region competing in Race Across America, also known as the world's toughest bike race. It's 1/3 longer than the Tour de France and takes half the amount of time.  

He's not a professional athlete.  He's the founder and CEO of Milestone Communications which build stealth cell phone towers around the region.

Forkas is riding to raise money for the non-profit organization he founded called Hopecam which helps kids like six year old Jessica Boateng.

Jessica was diagnosed with liver cancer last year and hasn't been able to go back to school since her immune system has been weakened with surgery and chemotherapy.

"Last year, not easy, this year more easy," said Joyce Boah, Jessica's mother who is from Ghana. She says their faith has kept them strong. "We pray every single cay and read the bible every single day. "

Boah says they are extremely appreciative of the Ipad Hopecam has given to Jessica, along with facilitating a daily connection to her class at Forestdale Elementary in Springfield.

"I think it will keep her connected to her classroom community, the routine of a classroom routine and school in general, and hopefully be able to lift her spirits at this difficult time in her life. And the kids here are really excited every time I say we're going to call her. It allows them to see her so their imaginations don't get carried away by the word cancer, and the fact that one of their classmates has been sick," said Melanie Krotz, Jessica's first grade teacher.

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, keeping them connected to their friends is usually that last thing parents are thinking about. But their medical team and social workers do understand the importance of it and they're usually the ones who refer them to Hopecam.

"For a a child going through cancer treatment, it's like a piece of their childhood has been taken from them. So what Hopecam tries to achieve is to bring back that piece that missing, which is that social connection to their friends to make them feel normal, make them feel like a kid," said Forkas.

Forkas speaks from experience. He started Hopecam after his own son Matt was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 10. He's now a healthy 22-year old college student who's been cured of cancer.

"Just for him to be able to connect with his friends made a huge difference," said Forkas, whose journey can be followed on Twitter @hopecam.

He says Hopecam sends the message to the sick child and his friends, that its not about IF they go back to school, but when.

Forkas starts the race next Wednesday, June 13th... And hopes to cross the finish line on June 23th. It will be his first attempt in a competition where only 30% of rookies finish.


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