UPDATE: Where is Daniel
Daniel Palazzolo has lived his professional life on the edge.
As a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service, he’s jumped in and out of tenuous situations battling blazes in Idaho and Utah. So when Palazzolo’s sister announced that she was in the fight of her life with cancer, Palazzolo decided he would help her in the only way he knew how—by taking on a formidable task.
On Friday, July 23, Palazzolo begins a 13,000-mile motorcycle journey from Atlanta to the Arctic Circle in Alaska and back to raise money for and awareness of breast cancer. He expects it will take him four to six weeks to complete.
Initially Palazzolo set a fundraising goal of $5,000 but since that was reached within the first few months, he’s raised it to $20,000 and is currently at the $6,000 mark. He’s linked with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
In a posting on his Web site, www.atltotheartic.com, Palazzolo shares, “I’m riding a motorcycle from Atlanta, GA to the Arctic Circle, AK, because it’s hard and long and something I will do alone in honor of my sister, Kris, who has breast cancer. I’m hoping this site gives her something to read during chemo, because that’s hard and it takes a long time, and it’s something she has to do alone.”
Palazzolo’s sister Kris is a 42-year-old mother of five who lives in north Georgia. In an interview Palazzolo did with his sister over Fourth of July weekend that he posted on his blog, she explained she discovered a lump during a breast self exam, which she did not do routinely.
Asked if she considered self checks and mammograms a must, Kris responded: “Absolutely. I waited, and I should have gotten a mammogram much sooner. It might not have changed the outcome of getting cancer, but the cancer might have been caught sooner, and my treatment might have been less harsh. My cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, and if I had realized sooner, we might have been able to limit my treatment to just surgery. My doctor told me that by the time you can feel a lump, it has been there for years. A mammogram is the best way to see a lump as small and new as it can be, and catch it and treat it sooner.”
A resident of Druid Hills, Palazzolo, 29, who’s been riding motorcycles since he was 21, will begin the journey on his 2006 BMW GS1200 with a group of friends and well-wishers riding with him as far as Birmingham, but after that he’ll mostly be solo. He expects to connect in Swan Valley, Idaho, with his oldest brother, Matt, who will ride with him for about three days and a cousin plans to meet Palazzolo in Fairbanks and accompany him to Prudhoe Bay.
“Being alone for so long that will be pretty easy,” speculates Palazzolo.
Asked what he anticipates will be the hardest part of the journey, Palazzolo said, “Now, getting ready. Riding will be the easy part.” Raising money, writing thank you notes, contacting media and sponsors have been challenging, he explained.
In addition to leaving behind family and a girlfriend (who’s thrilled and nervous about his upcoming expedition), Palazzolo is also driving away from a new automotive restoration and race car prep business he and partner John Bacon have started on Sams Street in Decatur.
And although Palazzolo is yet to get the first mile behind him, he already has sights set on next year. In addition to making the ride an annual event, he anticipates in 2011 to have four others riding with him, which he hopes will raise plenty of awareness and cash.