As reported by The Hartford Courant, June 29, 2006.

Ride for Research Planned

Medical Students Will Raise Funds

By Tracy Gordon Fox

Some people would choose a relaxing beach vacation for their last summer off before their second year of medical school.

But Ben Ristau of Colchester and Jeremiah Tracy of Milford are going to bicycle across the country, a 60-day jaunt that will end Sept. 2 in Milford. The ride is not just for fun either - the two medical students are looking to raise $50,000 for leukemia research

Ristau, 24, and Tracy, 25, both University of Connecticut School of Medicine students, decided to raise money for Lea's Foundation for Leukemia Research, a Hartford-based nonprofit group established to help fund research projects that help find a cure for leukemia and other blood cancers.

"The idea hatched when we were working out at the gym," Ristau said. "I brought up the idea of doing something like this."

Tracy, who was a senior in high school when his mother died of a rare form of leukemia, suggested they raise money for Lea's Foundation. They have raised $15,000 already, they said.

"We basically just wanted to contribute to UConn medical school and the Hartford community," Tracy said. "When we started looking at charities, leukemia research was a pretty obvious one to go to for me."

Lea's Foundation was formed in 1998 to honor the memory of Lea Michele Economos of West Hartford, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 28, and whose dying wish was that others not face the same suffering she encountered during her battle with the disease.

Last year, both Ristau and Tracy did research on blood cancers during their second year of medical school.

"There is that connection," Ristau said. "He has done research in Boston and I did research, too."

Called "Coast to Coast for a Cure," the students will fly to San Francisco Wednesday, and will begin riding their bikes back, traveling about 80 miles a day. The trip is dedicated to Tracy's mother, Elizabeth Herman Tracy.

Tracy said that he saw firsthand how the current treatment for leukemia can be almost as deadly as the disease itself.

"To me, research is a good way to go. The current treatments aren't really adequate," he said.

Ristau said he knows that after this summer, he won't get a break for a long time. There is no summer vacation the next three years, after which medical students receive a residency.

"But I like being outside and exercising," he said. "And its faster than walking."

For information on the trip, visit www.leasfoundation.org.