Local News

Dad Has Cross-Country Plan to Tell of Son's Cancer Fight

Posted July 3, 2007

— A father in Hoke County is getting ready for a bike ride across America, and he's not out to see the country or to satisfy a personal ambition — he’s out to tell a child's story.

"I just cycle about 75 to 100 miles a day," Vander Davis said Tuesday. That comes in addition to his work as a personal trainer at The Sports Center in Fayetteville.

Davis is lean and muscle-tight, a serious cyclist. On the handlebars of his bike, though, there is a tiny plastic chicken with boxing gloves.

"With the boxing gloves on, every time I look down, you know – you fight," Davis said.

That boxing chicken will ride with Davis to a place where palm trees grow in the yards, not Carolina pines. He plans to pedal from Hoke County to Pasadena, Calif., in 30 days.


A 4-year-old boy named Kai, the boy who put the chicken on dad's handlebars.

When Kai was 2½, doctors found a lump in his stomach. He had Stage 4 neuroblastoma, cancer of the nervous system.

"It was pretty devastating. I cried a lot. I called my daddy. He said it was gonna be all right. And Kai, he's helped me, because he faced it like a trouper," Davis said.

After two weeks of chemotherapy at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, Kai is back biking with dad and sister, Jasmine.

And dad has made up his mind.

"When we got a call from the doctors saying the cancer cells had come back in his bone marrow — I've been training and all -- but that's when my mind said, 'I'm going.' People need to hear this story,” Davis explained.

He plans on telling that story by biking across the U.S.A. Davis is trying to get sponsorships for his biking odyssey. His employer and Hawley’s Bicycle World in Fayetteville have pledged their support.

He wants to visit hospitals that treat children with cancer. He wants to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds research on children's cancer.

For fuel, he'll need water, electrolytes and a chicken with boxing gloves.

"I'm sure this ride is gonna be a fight for survival, so that's my inspiration — a fighting chicken," Davis said.

Davis hopes to set off on his journey in late August, after his son undergoes a few more treatments.

Kai’s prognosis is not good. His dad called it “zero.”

“We count the days, count the days,” Davis said. “But he’s still here with us.”


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  • jewel08 Jul 5, 2007

    Wabrs......from the story, I get the impression that the father feels the son has rebounded enough that he had to go out and tell his story while it will make the most impact. We can't judge what he and his wife/family have decided because we are not in their living room as they talk/pray/take time with their son. We don't know and therefore can not say HE IS WRONG....we just know the impact that this story obviously has had on a large number of people.

  • jewel08 Jul 5, 2007

    ladyblue....i agree with ya'll. I think this parent should do what he needs to do. I make no judgements on him. My entire postings were directed to some earlier responses which I felt said that parents that stayed with their children while they were dying were looking for sympathy. JokesWild did not say that........he in turn was responding to some very negative remarks himself. However, I think that alot of postings are just slamming this man when he is trying to do work that will benefit ALL with this horrible disease at a time when it will have the most impact. The media tends to flock to stories such as this. This family needs our support in fundraising and prayer for little Kai. I take no offense to your postings.

  • missjohnston04 Jul 5, 2007

    Has anyone thought that maybe the dad has come to terms with the fact that his son maynot be here much longer?? It does say that they are taking things "day by day". The child's prognosis is "not good" or "zero" as quoted in the story. Praying for all involved.

  • Jokers Wild Jul 5, 2007

    WABRS - Noone Cares what you think. If the father is doing this out of Love for his child, then that does not make him any LESS of a father than someone who was there 24/7. My Dad traveled Constantly for work when I was a child, and I never hardly saw my dadduring holidays or b-days etc.. And to this day my dad will tell you it was the HARDEST thing he ever had to do in life, and that it was ALL HE KNEW when it came to supporting us. WE always had nice clothes, a roof over our head and College was paid for without any problems. Would he do it all over again??? Probably not, But he did what he HAD to do to provide for his family. So WABRS - I am sorry oyur a MORON, and feel that he is "Dumping" responsibility on his wife. Maybe we could host YOUR story on how you do everything PERFECTLY suited to everyone else, and tell them how you managed to PLEASE every single person.. I would buy the book, or watch the show..

  • WABRS Jul 4, 2007

    I’ve been bothered by this story since it first hit the airwaves. Not only will the father not be with his son at a critical time, but it appears he is dumping all the responsibility upon his wife. If he’s not around, who cares for the caregiver? Shouldn't he stay home and help her?

    Raising money for cancer research is a good thing. But in life, we must choose between that which is good and that which is better….and between that which is better and that which is best. The “good” is the enemy of the “best”. I hope the father will reconsider the timing of his trip.

  • SpunkyGrits The One and Only Jul 4, 2007

    Praying for "those with no children" who want to comment on what a parent needs to do.

    Sincerely hoping that all goes better than expected for this family...

  • childfreeinrdu Jul 4, 2007

    LOL - just read another of your comments, attacking my lack of compassion. Geez, people - I'm advocating that the father stay home with his sick/dying child when he needs his father most. That shows a lack of compassion???

  • childfreeinrdu Jul 4, 2007

    Well, I had a nice long response to you all typed in, and then the browser hiccuped and I lost it. So here's the jist of it - I think this father is behaving irresponsibly by training for and going on this trip when his child needs him at home now more than ever. It sounds to me like abandonment. If this is how the father deals with the pain of this problem, I think he needs an intervention. And the several hours a day he spends training is time he could be spending with his sick son - time he will never be able to get back. He spends more quality time with that plastic chicken on his handlebars than he does with his son. I've re-read the article and watched the video, and that is how it sounds to me. "My son may be terminally ill, so I'm hopping on my bike and taking off." Run, Forrest, run!

  • ladyblue Jul 4, 2007

    jewel--I was responding to you noon post about no one posting that Dad was selfish. I've read all posts now and I see you are justifying what you meant. Maybe your emotions had gotten hold of you. If this story won't rip the heart out then people don't have a heart do they?

  • ladyblue Jul 4, 2007

    Jewel08--Beg to differ. I was on this web site until midnight last night and some stupid things were posted. Even after my explaining about neuroblastoma to this day is still a horrible child's cancer:sister died at 2 y/o with it, nobody listened. Elsie only lived a very short time with her diagnoses because chemo wasn't around. I wish only one thing. The ones up here on this moniter would donate to cancer causes for children. I donate to St. Judes because having a sister dead, (neuroblastoma) mother dead (liver pancreatic) and myself cancer free two years after breast cancer, I don't think anyone the right on here to judge anyone and call the dad selfish. There were several posts on it.
    It is a heart wrenching story and this man is handling his pain to raise money for research. I read St. Judes has several children now who have lived to be teenagers, but they were not class 4 by time it was discovered. It's nobody's business but that families