Superior owner taking ride of his life for breast cancer research
by Christina DiMartino | April 18, 2010
Mike and Cyndy Mulhern, owners of Superior Produce Inc., a wholesaler in
Sacramento, CA, are on a mission they've tagged "Coast2Coast4ACure" to
raise money for breast cancer.
Mr. Mulhern will set off May 17 on his bike for a 3,750-mile cross-country
ride from Boston to San Francisco. Mrs. Mulhern, accompanied by her mother,
Mr. Mulhern's father and other family members, will be driving alongside in a
The family has good reason for its dedication to raising money for breast
"In fact, there are several reasons," said Mr. Mulhern. "My mother was
diagnosed with breast cancer many years ago, and she eventually died from
ovarian cancer. My sister had a double mastectomy in 1999. Both my aunt
and my wife's aunt were also diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.
"The most important reason for this ride, however, isn't because of a
diagnosis," he continued. "It is because of two major scares involving Cyndy.
Two lumps with atypical cells were discovered on Cyndy at different times in
the past two years. Two biopsies were taken, and our family went through
two excruciating periods of waiting. Two times filled with the anxiety of not
knowing what was next and wondering what might have caused those lumps
in my wife's breast. These tense periods provided me with time to reflect on
what is truly important in life."
It turned out that neither lump was cancerous. In retrospect, however, Mr.
Mulhern said that those incidents may have been the tipping point that
motivated him to embark on his fundraising journey.
Mrs. Mulhern's role in raising money for breast cancer extends far beyond
just manning the motor home wheel. She will walk in the Avon Walk Boston
the day before Mr. Mulhern sets off on his bike ride in May, and is committed
to raising $1,800 for the event. During the cross-country ride, she plans to
connect with breast cancer survivors in numerous cities to talk about how
they dealt with the disease and to feature their stories on their web site,
The site and a Facebook page, coast2coast4acure, were developed to track
and report on Mr. Mulhern's day-to-day progress with photos and key events
of the trip as they occur, and to offer updates of the funds raised to date.
"We are trying to coordinate additional fundraising events in select cities as
we continue our trek across America," said Mr. Mulhern. "Our plan is to get
produce companies across the country involved."
The couple has sent out postcards and e-mails to people they deal with in
the produce industry, hoping for a domino effect that will inspire
professionals to make a donation.
Mr. Mulhern is taking the physical challenge of his ride seriously. He has been
working with a professional cycling coach, a sports dietician and a personal
trainer since October. He noted that he will turn 58 years old in May, during
the ride, and has been riding 100 miles a day two to three times a week to
"My goal is to complete the ride in six weeks," he said. "That's a little
aggressive, especially given my age. While I'm not committing to an exact
finish date, I figure the entire trip will take about six weeks. My goal is to
arrive at my final destination before July 4. Our family has an annual tradition
of gathering together at Yosemite National Park on July 4. If I don't finish my
ride by then, I'll take a break and go to Yosemite, and then get back on the
Mr. Mulhern thinks that on flat ground, he'll be able to ride approximately
100 miles a day. In mountainous terrain, he expects that figure to drop to
about 50 miles a day.
"I'm banking my miles on the easier days," he said. "I may make only 40 miles
a day when I'm riding through the Sierra Mountains."
He is also aware of the mental challenges associated with such an aggressive
"I've read three books about people who have done this ride," he said. "They
were very specific about the mental challenges. Fortunately, Cyndy will be
with me, and that will be helpful in keeping my spirits high. The greatest
challenge I may face is a little back pain, but so far I've been able to ride for
seven to eight hours a day without a problem. I'll stop every hour or so to
walk around, eat and refuel my energy."
The owner of the produce company next door to the Mulhern's business is a
close family friend. He and the staff at Superior Produce will oversee its day-
to-day business in the couple's absence. The company is a wholesaler that
sells primarily to government agencies, such as the state of California school
districts and Sacramento County foodservice agencies.
Proceeds from Mr. Mulhern's bike ride will go to the Avon Foundation Breast
Cancer Crusade, a foundation that has raised more than $690 million in 50
countries for awareness and education, screening and diagnosis, access to
treatment, support services and scientific research.
"My ride is 100 percent self-supported," he added. "Every cent we raise will
go directly to Avon."
As of April 13, the Mulherns had raised $5,500. They are asking the produce
industry for its support and for companies to pass the message along to as
many others as possible.
"There has been even more support from the produce industry than we
anticipated," said Mr. Mulhern. "I don't have a dollar goal, but I'm thinking we
could raise around $50,000. We'll be thankful for every dollar to help fight
this devastating disease."