Tuesday, September 23, 2008


All good things must come to an end, and the "24 Hours for Tom" fundraiser has officially drawn to a close. The financial support shown for the O'Connor family exceeded everyone's expectations, and the fundraiser was definitely a resounding success!

The bike race also went well for Joe - He finished 6th out of 16 solo men, having completed 12 laps of the course for 144 miles of racing. Joe's total ride time on the bike was nearly 17 hours over the course of the race. A large group of friends and family was on hand to support Tom and cheer on Joe, and there was quite a welcoming committee at the top of the mountain on the last lap!

Below you will find some pictures from the race. Also, please see the personal "Thank you" from Tom and Jen O'Connor at the bottom of the page...

1.) Grinding up the ski slope climb for the last time:

2.) The welcoming committee waiting (sort of) patiently:
3.) At the finish line, Tom and Joe, brothers-in-arms:
4.) Joe about to plant a smooch on his daughter, Baby Elise:
5.) Tom's son Ryan looks ready to do the next 24-hours:

6.) Left to right, Delaney, Tom and Ryan:

From the O'Connor's:

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported our family during these extremely difficult times. Over the past several months, we have been surrounded by so many kind and generous people. Not only by our family, friends and neighbors, but also, by those we have never met. We have been so touched by the outpouring of emails and cards expressing their prayers and support and also by those who generously donated by way of PayPal.

Furthermore, we would also like to take this opportunity to thank our angel, Joe, who not only exceeded his own expectations with his performance in the twenty-four hour race, but exceeded our expectations as a true friend. He has gone the extra mile in all he has done to support our family and has been there for us every step of the way since this nightmare began. We are truly blessed to have Joe, his wife, Andrea, and their daughter Elise, in our lives.

Sometimes you go through life wondering why you’re faced with a tragedy. Although we haven’t found the answer, we are extremely grateful for those who have touched our lives in so many ways.

Again, thank you for all you have done for our family and please keep us in your prayers. In the meantime, we’ll continue to pray and patiently await our miracle!

May God Bless You

Tom and Jennifer O’Connor"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tom O’Connor is a Sergeant in the Pennsylvania State Police. He resides in Monroeville, Pennsylvania with his wife and two young children. In early 2007, Tom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer called chondrosarcoma. Tom underwent extensive surgery to remove a tumor from his sacrum (upper portion of the tail bone). Tragically, a complication resulting from the surgery left Tom permanently blind.

In July of 2008, Tom learned that the cancer had returned, causing a recurrance of the tumor on his sacrum. Even more disheartening, Tom's doctors found that the cancer had metastized and spread throughout his body. Tumors were located on his left femoral head (upper thigh bone), right acetabulum (hip bone), left humerus (upper arm bone), T9 vertebrae (mid-back in the spinal column) and on a right anterior rib (front of chest).

Tom’s doctors do not anticipate being able to treat all of these tumors at this time. There is a possibility that they may at least treat the tumor on his spine with intensified, localized radiation in an attempt to prevent it from growing large enough to impinge on his spinal cord (which could potentially cause loss of function and/or mobility). Tom has also requested to be enrolled in a clinical trial in which he would receive an experimental cancer treatment drug that has not yet been approved by the FDA.

Since being diagnosed last year and subsequently losing his sight, Tom has been unable to work. He has exhausted all of his paid sick leave with the State Police, and he is currently on leave without pay. Tom’s wife Jen is unable to work full time due to the level of care that Tom and their two children require. Understandably, their family is now under a heavy financial burden.

Joe Ruggery is a close personal friend and co-worker of Tom O’Connor’s. He is also an accomplished amateur bike racer. In order to raise money for the O’Connor family, Joe has committed to racing the upcoming Subaru 24-Hour Champion Challenge mountain bike race … solo.

This event will be held at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort beginning at noon on Saturday, August 30TH and continuing throughout the night until the finish at noon on Sunday, August 31ST. The course is a grueling combination of steep climbs and treacherous descents over rocky, difficult trails. Most racers compete in the team relay categories, where riders take turns completing laps on the course. Only a few racers compete solo – racing alone for 24 hours straight.

Please consider making a donation to support the cause! All of the money raised will go directly to Tom O’Connor and his family. You may donate at any PNC bank location by advising the teller you wish to make a donation to the "Sgt. Tom O'Connor Family Fund". Your generousity is greatly appreciated by the O'Connor family!

Also, please feel free to send a personal message to Tom and Jen O'Connor to express your support. You may reach the O'Connors via e-mail at: tjojlo@aol.com

“Today I rode with the strength of two men.”
- Lance Armstrong, after winning a stage of the 1995 Tour de France in honor of a teammate killed in the race