When AJ Borowski's mother died from lymphoma at age 57 on July 31, 2014, Borowski was determined to do something to avenge the loss of the woman who taught him to follow his heart.
A year later, he set off on a more than 5,000-mile bike ride to raise money in his mother's honor for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Borowski, 26, of Bellmore left from Virginia on Aug. 30, at the head of the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, and has been biking along Route 66. He has raised more than $11,000 while passing through Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma, where he arrived on Sunday.
"It's awesome," Borowski said of his 2,200-mile ride when reached by phone. "It's a new adventure every day."
In Oklahoma on Saturday, Borowski is to be accompanied for part of his ride by some of the staff from Norman Regional Hospital. His childhood friend, Dr. Danielle Scheafer, who is in the hospital's new Emergency Medicine Residency Program, has arranged the escort.
"My hospital is driving AJ with their EMS truck to Route 66 in Yukon, and one of the paramedics is going to ride with him," she said in an email.
Scheafer, 34, was one of Borowski's mother Marie's former dance students. She was working to have hospital personnel contribute to Borowski's cause. But her plans for a major event were scaled back due to a lack of participation, she said.
Still, the gesture moved Borowski.
"It's really cool and touching to know that even people down here are willing to lend a helping hand," he said.
Upon arriving at his final destination in Santa Monica, California, Borowski may try to find a job to make the money back from his trip. He also said his father, Andrew, plans to retire next year from his job as a diesel bus mechanic for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and may join him on a ride back to Bellmore.
Lymphoma kills more than 20,000 people a year nationally, said Sara Lipsky, executive director of the Long Island chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
"It raises huge awareness," she said of Borowski's efforts. "I think that's incredibly important. With so many impacted by blood cancers, it raises money for research to combat the disease."
Borowski is a member of Team in Training, or TNT, a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society program that raises funds for blood cancer research through marathons, triathlons, cycling and hiking. He has raised about 73 percent of his goal of $15,000 through TNT, which raised more than $58 million in 2014.
To donate to Borowski's cause, visit nwsdy.li/borowski.