Why I Ride: D. Brad Patt’s Story
I’ve always had an affinity for speed, but was not allowed to have a motorcycle when I was growing up. I began riding motorcycles shortly after graduating from Penn State. Being fresh out of college, I could not afford a race car, so I pursued the next best thing – a motorcycle! Realizing there was a safer way to learn what my motorcycle was capable of, I began doing track days at Pocono Raceway and other race tracks, much to my parents’ chagrin. I even tinkered with my bike, improving the handling and performance. Regardless of the risks associated with my new hobby, my dad, Don Patt, would often make the drive to these circuits to support me. He has always been there for me and my sister. He is the greatest man, mentor and friend I know.
I find great therapy in riding motorcycles. Seven years ago my terrific wife, Katie, rode with me to Indianapolis for a MotoGP (motorcycle) race. I was impressed that this sophisticated (tremendous, beautiful, courageous – I could go on and on) woman would ride with me for 13 hours on a Harley Davidson, and I proposed to her on the infamous Brick Yard or start/finish line at the race track. She said “Yes”, and today we are married with two beautiful children, Presley and Indy, and a third on her way. Riding motorcycles has afforded me many great memories as well as the opportunity to create significant friendships.
Motorcycling does come with risks. I have crashed on the race track. I was hit by a drunk driver on my Harley (while dressed as a Green Power Ranger heading to a birthday party for a friend’s son.) But the overall experience I get when I ride is very rewarding. It is a great stress reliever, and provides a sense of freedom that I haven’t found through any other hobby. I focus on the positive aspects of riding, and pray for a safe return when I ride.
I like to think my dad and I have a very special and close relationship. He continues to share concern when I ride, but he has always supported my decisions, risks or not. My dad instilled a Patt family philosophy in me early on – celebrate every day to its fullest.
This philosophy has never rung more true to me than when my dad noticed a lump in his neck. I remember him wanting to get together to “tell me something significant.” We couldn’t find the time in our busy schedules to meet in person, so he eventually shared the news over the phone. (We have a tough time keeping things from each other.) I remember him saying “it was probably nothing.” Fast forward a few days – after a concerning visit to the emergency room, Dad was swiftly diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and admitted to critical care at Lehigh Valley Hospital.
Following the initial admission to the emergency room, he stayed in the hospital for what seemed to be an eternity. He immediately underwent chemotherapy and other treatments to offset this horrible case. A few months into treatment, the doctors shared some debilitating news with Dad and our family. It appeared his body couldn’t handle further treatment as prescribed, and we would have to navigate life with the effects of the treatments to date or possibly continue with reduced treatments, which might not be as effective.
As any family would, we sought out further opinions. It was concluded Dad should undergo an updated scan to evaluate the status of the cancer with only four (out of six) high impact treatments completed. Much to our blessed surprise, it was determined he was (and at this writing, still is) in clinical remission. To further reinforce the effectiveness of the total treatment, he was administered additional lower-dose treatments.
On behalf of my dad and our family, I would like to thank the overwhelming support received from many at the Cancer Support Community, as well as friends in the community and his terrific doctors, Dr. Lamparella and Dr. Patel.
Prayers and a positive outlook can work miracles. I ride because it leaves me with a sense of living life to the fullest. And I’m happy to be on the volunteer committee for the Cancer Support Community’s first motorcycle fundraising event, Ride for Hope, on July 11.
Be safe, have fun, and keep it rubber side down.
~D. Brad Patt