In early 2007, then 38-year-old McCluskey visited his doctor after noticing that things were not “quite right.” Within six weeks of visiting his family physician, McCluskey underwent a colonoscopy, a decision that he says saved his life.
After undergoing months of treatment for his colon cancer and receiving a clean bill of health in October of 2007, McCluskey bought a Specialized road bike to use to help to regain his strength.
“I bought it to give myself a goal to get back in shape after chemotherapy,” says McCluskey, a husband and a father, who is now cancer-free.
The following spring, McCluskey competed in the Hy-Vee Triathlon in which a portion of the race required him to ride his road bike.
“Competing in the triathlon was on my bucket list,” says McCluskey. “My wife asked me if I was going to do it after we left the wake of a friend who died of cancer that summer. Going to the wake was my motivation to do it.”
The friend was David Kinman, a fellow colon cancer patient he met while undergoing chemotherapy. Kinman died in July 2007, the same month that David’s Fight.org was launched. The nonprofit charitable foundation created to fight colorectal cancer carries on with the help of McCluskey and his family.
Over the years, McCluskey has organized several cancer benefits, but none as successful as Get Your Rear In Gear, which last month attracted more than 1,000 people to the 5K run/walk at Raccoon River Park and raised more than $75,000. Next year, he plans to expand it to a triathlon on Aug. 24, one week before the Hy-Vee Triathlon, which he plans to compete in again.
“I haven’t been on the bike as much as I would like lately, so that will motivate me to get back on it,” McCluskey says. “It wasn’t that long ago that I was in the hospital, and all I wanted to do was function normally. I spent a lot of time on the bike getting back in shape.”