Publicity Needed

For decades, the American Cancer Society has been helping patients get to their treatments by coordinating rides through volunteer drivers. This Uber-like program, called Road to Recovery, has been fantastically successful, but they've been extremely short on drivers since the pandemic.

Jeff Molby learned about this problem while volunteering for ACS through the Tuscola County Relay For Life. On October 10, 2023, he left home on a two-year bike tour around the country, reaching out to his fellow Rotarians, fellow Lions, and anyone else who would listen in search of volunteer drivers to help people get to their chemo appointments.

Once upon a time, Jeff's son was invited by a friend to join their Boy Scout troop. At the first meeting, he found out the troop leadership had all stepped down. Twenty minutes later, he was on the new council as treasurer.

None of them really knew how to run a Boy Scout troop, though, so Jeff went to visit the troop’s sponsor: the Rotary Club of Caro, Michigan. He was blown away by the warm welcome and the values embodied in the four-way test, so… a couple weeks later he had his red badge.

Around the same time, Jeff was dating a woman who opened his eyes to the good work the American Cancer Society was doing through Relay For Life. He loved being involved in a problem that was truly global in scale and yet still profoundly local in impact. His initial involvement was limited, but then he took on an outsized role to help restart things after covid.

Jeff’s son went off to college this past fall, leaving him with an empty nest and a thirst for adventure. That’s when he learned about the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program and how they use volunteer drivers to help people get to their treatments.

They too need a post-pandemic boost, so Jeff combined his love of traveling and cycling to his fight against cancer, setting off on a multi-year bike tour around the country in order to raise money and recruit drivers.

  • Cancer treatment often requires a ton of transportation which is a huge burden on patients and their support systems
  • The American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program has been helping with this problem for over 40 years
  • Road to Recovery works like Uber except the driver is a volunteer and the goal is to save a life
  • Since the pandemic, it has been incredibly short on drivers.
  • Jeff is a semi-retired empty-nester who took it upon himself to raise the alarm.
  • He's here to show the community how they can help their neighbors in need
  • Recruiting drivers to get people to their appointments
  • Recruiting sponsors to help with program overhead (support, dispatching, background checks, etc)
  • Recruiting cyclists to become the local voice for this cause
  • Recruiting fans to spread the word and cheer everyone on

Jeff Molby owns the full copyrights to this video and encourages you use, edit, and republish any portion of it for the purpose of raising awareness for the Road to Recovery program. Click here to download an unedited copy of the video. You're also welcome to use the transcript below.

How did you come up with this?

I've been volunteering with the American Cancer Society for like six years now through the Relay for Life back home. Mostly in small ways, just a little bit of fundraising and whatnot, but the last two years I took on a bigger role to try to get things going again after the pandemic.

Last spring, I was presenting to a neighboring Rotary club so I reached out to our ACS liaison to get the latest news. She told me that the Road to Recovery program has been way short on drivers since the pandemic, with more than half of all requests being denied because nobody was available to drive them.

I didn't think too much about it at first, but I've spent most of my adult life car-free, so I understand the effort it takes to plan out transportation for an important appointment when you can't simply "jump in the car".

A family that's being battered by the cost, intensity, and duration of a fight with cancer doesn't need that added stress. Road to Recovery is a simple way that we can help the family focus their energy on the fight itself. It works a lot like Uber except the driver is a volunteer and the goal is to save a life.

I knew I was going to do more traveling when my son went off to college anyways, so eventually it occurred to me that I could do it in a way that could make an impact.

Are you doing this all by yourself?

I'm riding every mile of forward progress on my bike, carrying all of my gear. Occasionally someone will ride along with me -- and it's great to have company -- but mostly I'm on my own.

But this is so much more than just a bike ride and it takes a huge a network of people to make it all happen. None of this would be happening without the support of my fellow cyclists, Rotarians, and Lions, my family, and, of course, the staff at the American Cancer Society.

I've been welcomed into so many homes, enjoyed a ton of homecooking, and a lot of bike maintenance. Plus people have done so much to make connections and help spread the word. Most importantly, there's all of the new volunteer drivers. All of this would be pointless without their willingness to step up and give a couple rides a month to their neighbors!

How are you funding this?
I've been a self-employed computer nerd for a loooong time, so working on the road is nothing new to me. As long as I carve out some time at the library throughout the week, I'm good to go. And this isn't exactly an expensive lifestyle.
What does a driver have to do?

A driver needs to be between the ages of 18 and 84, have a valid license, and have access to a reliable vehicle. To get started, they have to register with the American Cancer Society, pass a background check, and watch a few short training videos.

Once the new driver is onboard, they'll get notified whenever one of their neighbors needs a ride. If it fits within their plans that week, they can volunteer to help out. They might choose to drive to the appointment, from the appointment, or both.

If they need to decline the ride altogether, that's totally ok too. The goal is to have enough drivers in the program so that nobody has to bend over backwards to get the job done. "Many hands makes light work".

What kind of response are you getting?

Most people are surprised by the need. If they haven't already seen it up close, they usually have no idea that this great country is falling so short with such an essential service.

But as soon as I explain the situation and state my belief that every cancer patient deserves to get the recommended treatments on the recommended schedule, heads start nodding. Every meeting seems to end with a couple people coming up to me, offering to help.

That's why it's so important to get people talking. There are people in every community that have the time and the heart to give their neighbors a couple rides a month. We just need to find them.

How did you prepare for such a big ride?

I’ve been car-free for most of my adult life, so I’ve been riding for a long time, for all sorts of distances, in all sorts of conditions. I did a few weekend trips last summer to learn how to fit some camping gear on the bike.


From there, the only major unknown was whether my body could handle that many miles day after day after day. It was more than double the mileage that I was used to, so that definitely had me worried. There was definitely some soreness in the first few weeks. My legs were fine aside from the occasional cramp, but my neck and back were not happy. I had a weird pain in the back of my hand for awhile too. Fortunately the holiday break gave my body a chance to heal and adapt. All is well now!

Did you make any mistakes along the way?

Tons! I’ve swapped out pretty much every piece of gear that I started with, including the bike!

I’m a fan of the old quote, “A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not in the branch, but in her own wings.” I set out knowing that it was only a half-baked plan, but I had confidence in my ability to adapt and improvise along the way.

What happened to your bike?

Well, first you need to understand that my original bike was not the kind of bike you would normally take across the country. My fellow cyclists have called it a “Walmart Bike”, a “bike-shaped object”, and a “bold choice”. They were certainly right.

But I set out on this bike – which my son named Birger the Determined – because it was what I had at the time and I felt comfortable with it. I knew it was going to let me down at some point, but I figured I’d cross that bridge when I got there.


Birger met his demise outside of Orlando in early December when I stopped to get some groceries. As I was packing up, I forgot to hook my bungee cord back into place. A half mile down the road, the dangling cord caught in the chain, wrapped around a few times and ripped the rear derailleur to pieces. It wasn’t worth fixing, so I went to a nearby bike shop and was back on the road the next day with a used Trek that will hopefully prove to be a bit more sturdy.

Have you always been so comfortable with public speaking?
Absolutely not! I grew up as a stereotypical basement computer nerd, never anywhere near the spotlight. I’ve since spent much of my adult life trying to build my social skills. My public speaking began with some short pleas on behalf of the Parent-Teacher Organization at my son’s schools. I later took a small role in a community play, which forced me to confront my fears in a way I never imagined possible. Since then, everything else has seemed small by comparison, so I’ve known that I could push through any nervousness if I needed to. 
Do you get lonely?
No more lonely than a typical single person, I think. I'd like to have that person that knows me inside and out and loves the way I approach life… I definitely have one eye open for that as I go. But I have a large and loving family and lots of friends back home cheering me on. And I'm meeting amazing people every day. I'm a lucky guy.
Have you been nervous on this journey?
I try to think of it as “excitement” instead of “nervousness”, but yes, definitely!!! I had no idea how any of this would be received. When I left home, I didn’t even know what I was going to say to people! I feel pretty comfortable with what I have to say now, but my heart was absolutely racing those first dozen presentations!
Have you been surprised by anything?

Back home, cycling was pretty relaxing for me. It was my time to listen to audiobooks or think through any problems. At the end of the ride, I’d be full of energy to attack whatever was next on my to-do list.

That hasn’t been the case on the journey so far. My mental energy has been consumed by the need to constantly focus on navigating the unfamiliar territory that each day brings. I did not see that coming AT ALL.

Have you had any scary moments?

There was one time in the backwoods of Kentucky when I came across a couple enjoying happy hour drinks in their garage. I asked if they knew of anywhere I might be able to put my tent up for a night, hoping they’d point me to a park or church or something. The man said, “I sure do, I have some property just a few miles down the road you can use.” After a few minutes of him trying to explain where it was, I started to worry that I would end up on the wrong property and piss off the wrong person. When the man stood up to show me on the map, I saw that he was carrying a pistol, which didn’t do anything to ease my fears!


We eventually figured it out and I set off in what I was pretty sure was the right direction. After a couple turns, I was definitely on private property when suddenly a truck appeared behind me. I quickly dismounted and put my hands in the air to make sure they knew I wasn’t a threat.


It turned out to be the couple I had just talked to. They had come to make sure I found the right place. They proceeded to show me around and asked only that I clean up after myself. It was a wonderful night with a gorgeous full moon, but there were definitely some moments that felt like the beginning of a horror film!

Have you ever wanted to quit? 
Not yet. For the first couple months, when someone asked what my plan was, I would answer them and then add, “...or I might quit next week.” I was only half-joking because I still had no idea if any of this would be successful or sustainable.
Have you had any successes?
I consistently get a new volunteer or two at every talk I give, over 20 already. That’s huge! If each one gives a couple rides a month, that’s hundreds of rides that patients won’t have to stress out over this year. I know how stretched for time people are, so I never expected such a strong reaction! If we can continue to get a few drivers in each community, it’ll have a HUGE impact without anyone having to go far from home.
  What have you been eating?

Most of the meetings are based around a nice meal and my hosts usually insist on feeding me, but for the first leg of the journey… mostly I ate whatever garbage food I wanted, whenever I wanted. I had no idea how many calories I needed to sustain myself and I was afraid that under-eating would leave me stranded, so I indulged every craving I had. You’d have thought that Taco Bell and Dollar General were sponsoring me!

That approach caused me to put on ten pounds. That’s extra weight that I don’t need to be carrying around, so now I’m focusing my diet on proteins and trying to be thoughtful about my daily portions.

Where do you sleep?
So far I’ve camped a little more than half of the nights. I spent a few nights in hotels, but the rest have been with generous hosts that I’ve met along the way, mostly fellow club members and cyclists.
Where are you going next?
I just left Key West and I'm heading north to Jacksonville. From there, I'll head across the panhandle and up to Little Rock in time to see the solar eclipse from within the path of totality on April 8th. Then I'll head North to Minneapolis as the weather warms.

Broward County 2023
Patients requested 901 rides.
26 drivers generously provided 276 rides.
The other 625 requests (69%) were denied due to lack of drivers.
Miami-Dade County 2023
Patients requested 584 rides.
10 drivers generously provided 62 rides.
The other 486 requests (89%) were denied due to lack of drivers.
St. Lucie County 2023
Patients requested 117 rides.
5 drivers generously provided 59 rides.
The other 58 requests (49%) were denied due to lack of drivers.
Monroe County 2023
Patients requested 32 rides.
All 32 were denied due to lack of drivers.
Palm Beach County 2023
Patients requested 637 rides.
17 drivers generously provided 225 rides.
The other 412 requests (65%) were denied due to lack of drivers.
Indian River County 2023
Patients requested 92 rides.
5 drivers generously provided 36 rides.
The other 56 requests (60%) were denied due to lack of drivers.
Martin County 2023
Patients requested 108 rides.
4 drivers generously provided 36 rides.
The other 65 requests (60%) were denied due to lack of drivers.

Lee County 2023
Patients requested 575 rides.
19 drivers generously provided 305 rides.
The other 270 requests (47%) were denied due to lack of drivers.
Sarasota County 2023
Patients requested 343 rides.
12 drivers generously provided 175 rides.
The other 168 requests (49%) were denied due to lack of drivers.
Charlotte County 2023
2 drivers generously provided 7 rides.
Hillsborough County 2023
Patients requested 1,359 rides.
27 drivers generously provided 448 rides.
The other 911 requests (67%) were denied due to lack of drivers.
Pinellas County 2023
Patients requested 1,167 rides.
16 drivers generously provided 607 rides.
The other 506 requests (48%) were denied due to lack of drivers.
Manatee County 2023
Patients requested 240 rides.
12 drivers generously provided 125 rides.
The other 115 requests (48%) were denied due to lack of drivers.

Orange County 2023
Patients requested 817 rides.
Drivers generously provided 447 rides.
The other requests (%) were denied due to lack of drivers.
Seminole County 2023
Patients requested 305 rides.
Drivers generously provided 193 rides.
The other 112 requests (%) were denied due to lack of drivers.
Osceola County 2023
Patients requested 189 rides.
Drivers generously provided 57 rides.
The other 132 requests (%) were denied due to lack of drivers.

There are four ways to join the fight:
  • Drivers: Volunteer to drive your neighbors to their cancer appointments
  • Cyclists: Inspire sponsors with your weekly dedication to fitness
  • Sponsors: Your $50 donation to ACS helps get a patient to their life-saving treatment
  • Fans: Your kind words inspire everyone and spread awareness