Lots of folks head off to Florida when they retire, and so will Dr. John C. McConnell.
But the colorectal surgeon at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood is taking a rather unusual route. He’s kicking off his retirement June 21 with a 5,500-mile bike ride from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Key West, Fla.
The 62-year-old Wyckoff resident is using his trip for a dual purpose: to spread the message that colorectal cancers are preventable and to raise money for Valley Hospital’s Daniel & Gloria Blumenthal Cancer Center.
The American Cancer Society reports that colon and rectal cancers are the third-most common cancers among men and women in this country, not counting skin cancer. In 2008, there will be an estimated 108,070 new cases of colon cancer and 40,740 new cases of rectal cancer.
Combined, they will claim about 49,960 American lives this year.
“The key thing about colorectal cancer is that it is a preventable disease in almost all cases,” McConnell explained. “If you are vigilant and careful about your screenings, it’s a disease no one has to get.”
To prepare for his journey, he’s been getting out on the road as often as he can, biking around North Jersey and New York. On days when he can’t get out, the doctor works out on a stationary bike.
You can follow McConnell’s journey on a day-to-day basis on his blog at valleydocride.com,, which will include pictures and stories from his trip as well as the opportunity to donate to the Valley Hospital Foundation Pedaling for Prevention.