DENVER — Alec Fraser and Jamie Meehan will tell you the idea to bike nearly 5,000 miles started as most good ideas do.
"It was over a pitcher of beer one night we decided we'd ride across the country," Meehan said.
The real inspiration was actually born to decades earlier in a Connecticut hospital.
"Julian was a very special individual," said his dad, Alec.
Julian Fraser was a kid with a big smile and even bigger heart. An All-American swimmer and collegiate water polo player, his dad said he was happy and healthy until he turned 19 and got a devastating diagnosis.
"He had osteosarcoma, which is a bone cancer that affects mostly children and adolescents," Alec said. "Unfortunately, by the time it was diagnosed... it already metastasized and it was in 14 different parts of his body and he had a huge tumor in his abdomen."
After a hard, year-long fight, Julian lost his battle with cancer in 2017.
"They gave him very little chance for survival. I remember he took me aside at one point and said, 'Dad, I don’t care what they say, I’m gonna beat this.' And he just fought with every ounce of strength against this disease," Alec said.
It's that strength that the pair draws from as they cycle from Connecticut to California in Julian's honor. Their goal is to raise a half-million dollars for Cycle for Survival, which funds rare cancer research.
"Over 50% of people that have cancer have a form of rare cancer and yet only 4 cents of every dollar raised for cancer research goes to rare cancer research. So it’s very important in our minds," Alec said.
This week, Team JF made it to Colorado. A crowd of supporters joined them for stretches of the ride while the teen was never far from their thoughts.
"I think about the struggle that Julian went through and the fights that he had and so there’s a deep reservoir of commitment to make it through and so it’s in the tougher times when I’m riding that I think about him," Meehan said.
Nothing will fill the hole Julian left behind, but Team JF hopes this ride, this way to honor the teen, may just give hope to those still fighting.
"I do from time to time, think about Julian of course, and think about his life, great memories that we had with Julian and feeling like, alright, he’s up there looking down on us, smiling at what we’re doing, so that feels really good," Alec said.
If you would like to donate to Cycle for Survival, visit their website.
Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.