Catasauqua man creates bicycle display to raise awareness for cancer cure
Catasauqua resident Ben Ferenchak has turned a love of bicycling into an artistic vision aimed at raising awareness for cancer. It’s called ‘Tour de Fence.”
Catasauqua and North Catasauqua residents and visitors may have noticed a slew of bicycles lined along Ferenchak’s backyard fence.
“The project is still evolving and growing as we speak, but basically it is a community-involved tribute art project that honors and celebrates cancer survivors, brings prayers and hope to cancer fighters and memorializes our loved ones who lost the battle to cancer,” Ferenchak told The Press.
Ferenchak, who is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, attributed his long distance bicycle rides on the The Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer (PPRAC) as one impetus for the art project’s birth.
Ferenchak’s son, Nick, a 2006 Catasauqua High School graduate, has provided helpful assistance with the art project, as well as providing assistance with the promotional details of Tour de Fence. Ferenchak said his son did the 500 mile PPRAC ride with him in 2005, and rode with him from Catasauqua to Florida.
“I rode my bicycle 1,000 miles back in 1983 to raise money for the American Cancer Society on a ride called The Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer,” he explained. “They do a different ride every two years. It’s been revised to 500 miles in six days. I’ve done it several times over the years. Eight years ago, right before I rode from my home in Catty to Florida, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It’s progressed to the point that I can no longer do long rides but I still like to help PPRAC fight cancer. So I decided to make Tour de Fence help me accomplish that goal.”
According to Ferenchak, community members have donated bikes to the project, and have provided funding to the American Cancer Society.
Those who donate $10 or more to the ACS will have a label printed out with the name attached to a bike. A letter indicating the status of the person in whose honor the donation was made will appear behind the name. Letters include “S” for survivor, “F” for fighter and “D” for deceased.
The goal is to cover the bikes with 1,000 names ($10,000.00),” Ferenchak said. “People that donate a bike get two names free.”
Ferenchak said the project was inspired by both his father – a breast cancer survivor – and a friend who lives down the street from him.
“He was always seen jogging or walking around town, a specimen of good health,” Ferenchak said of this friend. “It tears me up when I see cancer attack people who do everything right to prevent it. I pop in to visit him once in a while. He’s a fighter and he’s been an inspiration for me when I was dreaming up this idea that has materialized into Tour de Fence. His bike is included in the project.”
Tour de Fence will be on display until conclusion of the PPRAC ride, scheduled for the end of July 2017. Donations and names will be accepted throughout the entire year of the exhibit, Ferenchak noted.
“Some people made comments that it’s a waste of perfectly good bikes,” Ferenchak said. “I understand what they are saying but I compare that to someone saying the Vietnam Memorial wall is a waste of perfectly good granite. Bikes are the media I chose to use, and although they will succumb to the laws of nature quicker than granite, I feel they convey the message I am trying to achieve in a way no other means could provide.”
The official dedication of Tour de Fence is scheduled for 1 p.m. July 23 at 502 Pine St.
As of May 15, 52 name tags have been prepared to be placed on donated bicycles
Ferenchak recommends the person adding the name of a cancer survivor or fighter ensures the individual is aware and approves of having the name displayed. If privacy is a concern, Ferenchak suggested, the donor use a nickname such as “Uncle Ed” or a first name and last initial such as “ED.”
“Sometimes a tear rolls down my cheek when I add a bike to the fence,” Ferenchak added. “It’s harder working on this project then I thought it would be. Printing the names out gets emotional. It’s a small town. I know a lot of these names.”
As of May 27, the project has garnered over $1,000 in donations.
Those interested in donating to the project should make a check or money order for $10 or more out to the American Cancer Society. The donor should also include a note with the name included on the bike and indicate if the person is a fighter, survivor or deceased. The check or money order and note should be mailed to Ben Ferenchak 502 Pine St., Catasauqua, PA, 18032.
Additionally, those interested in donating can do so online at http://goo.gl/mXLpfK.
Updated information on the project can be found by liking the Facebook page at Tour de Fence.