A quest for a cause

Four men are giving up their regular jobs for seven days and trading them in for bikes and canoes in an effort to raise money for the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. The event, “Key Quest,” will test the endurance of the men, who will be biking and canoeing more than 475 miles down the state.

Jim Kilcullen of Belleair Bluff, Jim Hartnett of Tampa, Joe Hardin of Dunedin and Aaron Sorenson, a Key West coast guard, are departing from Tampa on Saturday. With backpacks filled with everything from food to medical supplies, the four men will be biking, with kayaks in hand, all the way to Everglades City.

“We will try to do 130 miles the first day,” said Kilcullen, an avid adventurer and past participant in multi-day biking events.

Then, the men will set off in canoes, which will be weighed down by their bikes and backpacks, from Everglades City to Flamingo.

Kilcullen said traveling through the Everglades won’t be an easy task.

“There are several different routes to take through the Everglades,” Kilcullen said. “And we will either be sleeping at camp sites in tents or on wooden deck platforms in the middle of the Everglades.”

After arriving in Flamingo, the men will take their bikes out of the canoes and ride the remaining 175 miles into Key West, arriving approximately on March 29.

Hartnett said he is no novice when it comes to multi-day racing.

“I’ve participated in events like this before,” he said. “In particular, a mountain biking event through Colorado that lasted six days and six nights, called the Subaru Primal Quest.”

Kilcullen said he has been training with Hartnett and Hardin for five years now. The three contacted Sorenson, who then signed on for the adventure.

“The three of us came together and decided we wanted to put something together on our own,” he said.

The Key Quest group chose to support Moffitt because all of the men have had family members that have been affected by cancer. The men also named the event themselves.

“If all goes well — the rainstorms, mosquitoes, headwinds, flat tires and alligators — it should be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Kilcullen said. “If the winds are behind us, everything is easy.”

The four men will test their bodies and their minds during this eight-day quest.

“This should be a piece of cake compared to the challenges that the cancer victims face,” Hardin said.

Hartnett said he agrees and hopes the event will benefit Moffitt.

“The challenge should test all our abilities to persevere through difficulties and knowing that we are doing this to benefit Moffitt,” Hartnett said. “We hope Key Quest 2003 creates awareness that cancer can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle.”

Sorenson, who’s had two surgeries on his right hip, said he is looking forward to the trip because it benefits a great cause.

“It really is amazing what hospitals and research centers like Moffitt do , and I am glad I am able to help out in any way possible,” Sorenson said.

The four men are hoping for corporate donations, along with other monetary sponsors, all of which will be given to the Cancer Center.

“We don’t need money for the actual event,” Kilcullen said. “One hundred percent of what we receive will be given to Moffitt, the source of our motivation.”

Contact Charlie Ederat oraclefeatures@yahoo.com