The wheel dean
It was April 1974 when I came into this crazy world. I remember a few things here and there that I did when I was 1 or 2 years old, but there’s one day I’ll never forget!
It was only a few days before my 3rd birthday. I was with my parents at Montgomery Ward and I started to feel very weak. At first they thought I was just being a little punk and wanted to be carried, but they soon realized something wasn’t right. I was burning up pretty bad and we went straight to see my pediatrician after hours and got a blood test and checkup. We went home and went to bed.
The following morning the phone rang. My parents were told that they needed to bring me down to Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC… I had Leukemia!
Straight to Mt Sinai we went! I was under the care of *The TJ Martel Foundation for Leukemia & Cancer Research. For six weeks I was fighting the deadly blood disease, and I still remember almost everything about what I went through both as an inpatient and an outpatient for the next several years.
The Doctors, Nurses, and the rest of the staff were amazing! I remember one nurse teaching me how to give an orange an injection with a syringe! They kept me going as did my parents. My mom and dad would alternate day and night shifts and just run the car back and forth to the house “upstate.” I even remember looking out the window on May 5, 1977 and watching snow fall as the car drove by!
Six weeks felt like a long time back then, but even though it only took that long until I was in remission and could go home to my family, the fight was far from over. I continued treatment on an outpatient basis. I would get Chemotherapy for a total of 4 years and *Immunotherapy for a total of 5 years.
*Immunotherapy was used on me back in 1977. Over the past 10 years it has been in the media as a “new form of cancer treatment with promising results!” So I just wanted to mention that. Let it sink in. It is not new!
*The TJ Martell Foundation used to have my parents and I attend their annual fund raiser in NYC. Many celebrities were involved. See the pictures at the bottom of this page!
Around the time I was 4 years old my hair was growing back and my immunity seemed well enough that I could go out and play with all my neighborhood friends. I did everything a normal kid would do back then before technology made the world lazy. I rode bicycles mostly and started playing baseball and basketball. I was not much of a hitter in baseball but I was one of the 3 best pitchers in the league! As far as basketball, I was better than average, but I don’t think I ever had the most points in a game.
Sports were not my thing, money was! Even as a young kid I was looking for ways to make money. I shoveled driveways when it snowed out, I delivered eggs in my neighborhood for a local farmer, I got an evening newspaper route and then a larger morning newspaper route. I dropped the egg route and eventually dropped the evening newspaper route when my brother started a landscaping company in 1987 when I was 13.
It was 1987 when I finally found something I loved to do… ride ATV’s!!! Oh yes! I had been bugging my parents to let me buy (I saved more than enough money) a 1986 Honda TRX200SX ATV. They said NO over and over until the day they caved and actually bought me one that was in perfect condition. I rode as much as I could and my brother went and bought a new one to go riding with me. His business kept him too busy to ride, so I bought it from him, a new 1987 TRX250X which I modified heavily myself and made it into my unofficial race-quad. I rode every day that I didn’t have to work after school. To this day, I miss riding ATV’s the most out of anything I ever used to do.
I worked hard and I played hard. I still had my morning paper route, went to school, did landscaping as much as I could and rode the quad every free moment I had. This was my life and I was loving it! I bought a 1980 K5 Blazer plow truck when I was 14 and a brand new 1989 Thompson 200 Carrera boat when I was 15 (my brother and I split that loan)! When I turned 16 I bought a 1973 Chevy Nova which I pretty much restored over the 4 years I owned it. Then at 19 I bought a 1980 Corvette from my brother. Yes I loved cars, bikes, quads, and boats! I earned all of it with hard work and I’m glad I had the chance to enjoy it all when I could.
Then came the fall of 1994 and I decided one afternoon to just kick back and watch TV. I was watching MotoGP (motorcycle racing) and saw a commercial for Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. Bingo! I called their 800 number and a few days later I had all the info I needed to sign up! I quickly registered to start class in September 1995 in Phoenix, AZ, a place I had never visited nor did I know anyone who lived there!
At this point I had sold all but one bicycle, sold my ATV’s, sold my Nova (and a 73 Firebird I never drove), and already bought and sold one street bike. I still had the Corvette, Boat, beater car, and a 1987 Yamaha FZ700 streetbike. I moved to AZ with the streetbike and bicycle and the help of my mom, my grandmother, my dads van and a trailer I built for the streetbike.
I arrived in Phoenix and quickly made my mark. I met a lot of great people real fast and had a great 7 weeks going to motorcycle school, working as a waiter and cook at Denny’s and just riding all over the desert. Then. One day… after… school…