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Stories from the Road

A Father’s Memory Lives On

25-mile Rider Justen Baxter prepares for his first Ride in BellRinger to honor his father and previous BellRinger Rider, Jim Baxter.

4 min read

In June of 2022, Jim Baxter noticed a flier for BellRinger in the halls of The Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers at Georgetown while awaiting cancer treatment.

Jim was no stranger to riding his bike; he always loved cycling, dating back to the days when he worked at the Renwick Gallery in D.C. But in 2018, Jim was diagnosed with cancer and had to retire given how labor intensive his job was. During his retirement, which began with several rounds of chemotherapy, he maintained his love for cycling and the outdoors by riding through the Millennium Trail in Rockville, MD and other trails throughout the area on a daily basis.

Fast forward four and a half years, and he saw the flier. It caught his eye, and Jim thought, “Why not? Let’s sign up.”

Pam Baxter, Jim’s wife, remembered that moment and said, “He thought it was a great way to give back and enjoy something with the community.” Without hesitation, Jim decided to sign up to ride 25 miles in BellRinger’s Inaugural Ride in 2022.

Jim was a remarkable father, grandfather, and husband known for his selflessness and determined nature. He had a knack for helping others and loved his family beyond measure. Jim built a sandbox and a swing set in his backyard while undergoing treatment simply because he saw the joy it brought to his grandchildren. He taught his grandson Andrew how to ride a bike, and spent every moment with the people he loved most.

Training for the Ride became an escape for Jim. While BellRinger gave him a personal goal to achieve, it allowed him to spend even more time with family, including daily rides around the track with his son Justen and his grandchildren. After weeks of training on a single-speed bike, he embarked from Georgetown University on a chilly Saturday morning in October with 850 other riders who pushed him along each step of the way. He finished his 25-mile ride with his family cheering him on.

"Watching Jim cross the finish line was the best memory. His face lit up with joy. It was priceless."

Pam Baxter, Wife to Jim Baxter

Jim fought his disease for three long months after the Ride before passing away in February of 2023. Before his passing, he stumbled upon a 10-speed bike at a yard sale that he was excited to ride in BellRinger 2023, challenging himself to go for the 50-mile ride.

Following the loss of his father, Jim’s son, Justen Baxter, initially refrained from thinking about BellRinger, as it had been such a cherished passion of his father’s. A few weeks after his passing, however, his mother broached the subject and asked whether he intended to ride in his dad’s honor.

After reflecting on how much BellRinger truly meant to his father, Justen decided to register with no hesitation. He is now committed to riding 25 miles and raising funds in honor of his father’s impactful life and legacy. He firmly believes that his father will be watching from above saying, “Great job, Justen” as he crosses the finish line.

“Finishing with my family there and my dad looking down on us all will be a moment I won’t forget,” Justen shared. “I can’t bring my dad back, but I will have these memories to live out his legacy. Once my son is old enough, along with my other kids, I can see them doing the Ride in future years. My dad taught my son, Andrew, how to ride a bike. He was scared and having challenges, but my dad got him through it. One day he will ride in BellRinger in honor of his grandfather.”

September 6, 2023

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