A Good Neighbor: Paul Tanklefsky of Andover Cycles 100 Miles to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society


It was the night before the big race and Paul Tanklefsky was having trouble sleeping.

"I was tossing and turning the whole time,"he explained.  "I finally got up at 4:30 in the morning because I was so anxious.  I was ready to get on my bike and start the race right then."

A few hours later, Tanklefsky, an Andover resident, joined 1,300 fellow 'Team in Training' cyclists along a breath-taking 100-mile course through Nevada and California, better known as the 'Lake Tahoe Century Ride.' In the end, their finishing times varied, as did their aches and pains, but no one complained.

That's because they collectively raised $4.5 million last month for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Tanklefsky, Director of Career Services and Cooperative Education at Suffolk University in Boston, was committed to raising $3,250.  He exceeded that goal significantly, raising a total of $8,382.

He credits his final tally to the generous contributions made by his fellow co-workers at Suffolk University.  "They were great," said Tanklefsky.  'I'd say at least half of the money I raised came from people who work at Suffolk."

"Paul did a wonderful job," said Megan Thomas, Team in Training Campaign Director for the Massachusetts Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  "He raised the fourth highest amount of money out of the 28 individuals representing our Massachusetts Chapter.  He kept reaching out to more and more people every chance he got.  His extra effort will go a long way to help others."

Tanklefsky's motivation to peddle 100 miles can be traced to his good friends, Doug and Patricia Yates of North Andover.  "Pat and I worked together at Suffolk for nine years, and she is a person of real warmth and heart," said Tanklefsky.   "Doug is a confident guy who has a zest for life and a wry sense of humor.  My wife (Gay, a speech therapist at the Professional Center for Child Development in Andover) and I have tremendous love, respect and admiration for both of them."

Last fall, Doug was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease.  Upon hearing the news, Tanklefsky felt saddened.  However, soon thereafter, he became inspired to challenge himself and prepare for the 'Lake Tahoe Century Ride' in honor of Doug.  "I wanted to do something on behalf of Doug while making a tangible contribution to such an important cause," said Tanklefsky.  "That's why participating in this race made perfect sense."

Founded in 1949, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the largest and fastest growing voluntary health organization in the nation.  Its mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma — all blood-related cancers – and to improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

Yates has completed chemotherapy treatments and is now in remission.  He says that he appreciates everything Tanklefsky has done for him and how he treasures their friendship. "Our families have been friends for many years," said Yates, who just celebrated his 56th birthday and hopes to return to the workplace as a physicist by late summer.  "Paul is a man of action and commitment.  Pat and I were pleased, but not surprised, that he demonstrated his concern and support for us during this tough time."

Preparing extensively for months, Tanklefsky, 48, finished the challenging course around Lake Tahoe in seven hours.  "Completing the race gives you a real sense of accomplishment and fulfillment," he said.  "It was a powerful feeling."

He then paused.  "But the best part was when I spotted Pat and Doug in the crowd about 10 yards from the finish line,"said Paul Tanklefsky.  "That kind of brought this whole experience full circle."

(Tony Ferullo is Associate Director of Public Affairs at Suffolk University).

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