UAMS Myeloma Center Team Rides for Research

By Linda Haymes

The ride is held in conjunction with the Big Dam Bridge 100. For the first time, the Myeloma Center served as a presenting partner, with the ride’s organizers producing five promotional videos highlighting the center in return. Myeloma Center employees also manned an aid station in Burns Park in North Little Rock throughout the day.

More than 100 riders, ranging up to 81 years old, joined the center’s team. Don Gephardt of North Little Rock loves to cycle and at 81, he’s not letting his age or his diagnosis put the brakes on any of the miles he covers on the 16-spead Litespeed he bought in early 1997 to ride across the United States.

Three years ago, he was diagnosed with a myeloma-related disease — lymphoma in the bone marrow — after his physician found extra protein in his blood during a routine check-up. He was also diagnosed with as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). MGUS is non-cancerous but could progress to myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells in the blood.

“I got rid of the lymphoma after eight months of chemotherapy. With the MGUS, we’re just waiting and watching right now,” said Gephardt, who is treated by Sharmilan Thanendrarajan, M.D.

In the midst of battling his own cancers, Gephardt, who completed the 26-mile course, realized the importance of taking part in this event.

“It’s so important to let others know about myeloma, its related diseases, and to raise awareness of them,” he said.

The annual Big Dam Bridge 100 drew more than 3,400 participants from more than 30 states. The ride, offering various courses from 14 to 100 miles, began and ended along the Arkansas River in downtown North Little Rock.

Several Myeloma Center researchers rode the 60-mile course this year, while Valeriy Lyzogubov, M.D., Ph.D., rode the full 100 miles.