Scott Hamilton is back in action.
No, the figure skating icon won't be lacing up. He'll be sitting atop a bike and cycling 444 miles Erase the Trace, a five-day ride along the Natchez Trace Parkway. The fundraiser that goes through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee is designed to raise $1.25 million in funding for a breakthrough glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cancer research grant to treat the most aggressive form of brain cancer.
Inspired by the story of Scott Williams, who is a GBM patient and reached out to the 1984 Olympic champion's Scott Hamilton & Friends organization a year ago for help in fundraising. Not only did Hamilton put together a skating show to help in 2021, but he also rode the final portion of the initial Erase the Trace. Now, Hamilton will join Williams for the entire ride from May 2 to May 7.
“Last year’s Erase the Trace inspired me like no other event we have ever done," Hamilton said. "The hope, drive, and bravery of glioblastoma patient Scott Williams awakened a part of my heart that I hadn’t realized needed awakening. The instant we welcomed Scott to the finish line at the end of his ride, I knew it was something I had to do next year.
"I can’t wait to feel the wind in my face, the burn of my legs, and the pounding of my heart as I, too, rise to the 444-mile challenge. I am so excited to know that with each push of the pedal, we are getting that much closer to positively changing outcomes for people facing brain cancer.”
Erase the Trace references both the Natchez Trace itself and Williams’ battle with glioblastoma. Each mile in 2021 was ridden in honor or memory of a specific person.
“Even with 100% removal of a glioblastoma multiforme tumor, there’s always a trace of cancer cells that remain, just waiting for an opportunity to attack again,” Williams said.
A cancer survivor himself, Hamilton never has completed a bike ride of this length or magnitude. He hopes to also attract friends, whether celebrities or not, to ride with him. Or to support the cause in any manner.
“Even to this day, I don’t believe I truly understand the magnitude of the ride I’m about to go on,” the 63-year-old Hamilton admitted. “To physically complete the 444 miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway is sincerely such a feat.”
So Hamilton has been working with Johnny Burrell, a Nashville-based craniosacral therapist and a record-holding cyclist.
“ I am grateful for the experience of Johnny Burrell, who has taken me out to the most difficult portion of the Natchez Trace to check out my physical ability to handle it,” Hamilton added. "We rode for 44 miles and it went pretty well. Outside of that, I’ve been training on my exercise bike when limited by travel or weather, and getting out onto the Trace to practice as much as possible on my own. I am hoping and praying that I am strong enough to complete the ride.
“I know between Johnny and Scott Williams, both of whom have completed the ride, I will be in the best hands possible. And hopefully my nerves won’t get the best of me.”