By Liz Underhill
I ride in the Tour de Pier for two reasons; two really important people.
On May 18, 2013, the day before the first Tour de Pier, we lost a huge piece of our lives. Kory Lewis Hunter passed away after a courageous 22 month battle with Glioblastoma. Kory taught me so many things through the way he lived his life, and even more by the way he faced and fought his cancer. I am a better physical therapist because I got the opportunity to work with Kory. Even on those tough frustrating days in the gym, working on what seemed to be impossible tasks, I remember laughter with Kory. He never gave up. More importantly, I am a better human being because Kory Hunter was my good friend. Kory had a love of life that was contagious. He was larger than life and always there for others. The “give you the shirt off his back” kind of guy. I ride every year to honor him, remember what he stood for, and to keep his legacy alive. The Tour de Pier is a huge part of his legacy of love, support and hope and that’s why I ride.
Yet one could argue that the second reason I ride is even stronger. You see, I ride every year along side my best friend, Rory Hunter, Kory’s widow. I met Rory on the playground of our kids’ preschool on the first day and from the start it was like I had found my long lost sister. She is my biggest supporter, my partner in crime and my “forever plus one.” She is my calm sounding board and the one who I know will always be there, ready to help, no matter what.
I have watched Rory over more than a decade endure more than any one person should. She has been the definition of the steadfast, resilient caregiver through the diagnosis of her son Dylan with Neuroblastoma, her dad Mike’s diagnosis with colon cancer and the very next year Kory’s diagnosis of Glioblastoma. Through it all one thing was constant – Rory. Though Rory herself never had cancer, cancer still took over her life. She was the driver, the scheduler, the cheerleader, selflessly putting everyone’s needs ahead of her own. She was on this unrelenting treadmill for years of appointments, treatments and agonizing decisions but she never stopped, she just kept putting one foot in front of the other, getting every job put before her done. Her dedication to her loved ones, ensuring they got anything and everything they needed, is nothing short of amazing.
Since Kory’s passing 5 years ago, I have watched her confidently shoulder the tough road of a single working mom to her three beautiful kids with amazing grace and unwavering strength. Rory Hunter is a survivor. Cancer did not beat her – it just made her that much stronger.
And so I ride with her, in hope that she knows that I will always be there for her as she has been there for everyone else. No matter what life throws our way… we will navigate through it together.
I am honored to ride in the memory of a great man and in support of my chosen sister. Together we ride!