PALMDALE – Several residents of the Antelope Valley will have significant roles in the opening ceremonies for Stage 3 of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California, coming to Marie Kerr Park in Palmdale on Tuesday, May 14.
The event will begin with the posting of colors by the Highland High School ROP Color Guard, the singing of the National Anthem by Jacob Nelson and Molly Wineland, and remarks by Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford.
The official start of the race will be handled by Palmdale resident Ben Jefferson, who will fire the starting pistol as part of Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer® initiative. Each day of the race, the most courageous rider will earn Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer® jersey. The jersey will be awarded to the rider who best exemplifies the character of those engaged in the fight against cancer—courage, sacrifice, inspiration, determination and perseverance. The rider then, in turn, presents the jersey to a local cancer survivor who has likewise exemplified these qualities in the battle against cancer.
Jefferson’s battle with cancer began in 2000. After suffering from weight loss, fatigue, and an overall dull feeling, he chalked it up to just stress stemming from his first semester of law school at Loyola Marymount. One day on his way to school, Ben suddenly felt ill. Despite his protests, his parents urged him to go to the hospital. Three days later, at the age of 23, Ben Jefferson was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.
Plans to become a lawyer were put on hold as Ben spent most of that year undergoing chemotherapy treatments at LA County/USC Medical Center.
By year’s end however, he was cancer-free. After some soul searching and good fortune, he put his dream of becoming a lawyer on hold, Ben found his true passion in teaching. While working as a special education teacher at Palmdale High School, he met and fell in love with Staci Haight, an English teacher. In 2007, the two married and became known as the “bride and broom” of American Cancer Society’s Palmdale Relay for Life after turning up at the event in complete wedding attire just hours after they said their vows.
Now, 13 years after that initial diagnosis, Ben remains in remission. He is still at Palmdale High School where he works as an instructional coach, and will celebrate six years of marriage this September. Ben and Staci are the parents of two young daughters, Juliet, 4, and Kathryn, 21 months. He remains involved in the Palmdale Relay for Life as its Fight Back co-chair.
“Amgen’s goal with Breakaway from Cancer is to raise awareness of the resources available for those touched by cancer – from prevention through survivorship,” said Bob Azelby, vice president and general manager, Amgen Oncology. “Amgen is committed to helping those with cancer, and the Most Courageous Rider Jersey contest is another way to reach into the community and connect with those impacted by the disease.”
Stage 3 of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California comes to Palmdale on Tuesday, May 14. The festivities will begin at 9:30 am with the starting pistol being fired at 11:20 am to begin a 110 mile journey from Palmdale to Santa Clarita.
Some of the top cyclists in the world, including Olympic athletes and Tour of France competitors, will compete.
After leaving Marie Kerr, the cyclists will head west on Rancho Vista Blvd. They will take Rancho Vista Blvd. all the way up until they reach Avenue N. At Ave. N, the cyclists will make a left and head west all the way up to 70th West. From there, they head north to Avenue I, where, if conditions are good, they will see an amazing display of poppies along the way. From Avenue I, the racers turn left and head west to Munz Ranch Road and up the hill for the first of four King of the Mountain stages of the race. Once they finish the hill, they’ll head east on Lake Elizabeth Road until reaching San Francisquito Canyon where they will embark on the first of three canyon routes.
Twelve cities have been named official Host City partners for the 2013 Amgen Tour of California by AEG, presenter of the race, helping to make up the route which will take riders on a South to North course for the first time in the eight-year race history.
The 12 Host City partners for the 2013 Amgen Tour of California include:
- Stage 1: Sunday, May 12 – Escondido
- Stage 2: Monday, May 13 – Murrieta to Greater Palm Springs
- Stage 3: Tuesday, May 14 – Palmdale to Santa Clarita
- Stage 4: Wednesday, May 15 – Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara
- Stage 5: Thursday, May 16 – Santa Barbara to Avila Beach
- Stage 6: Friday, May 17 – San Jose (Individual Time Trial)
- Stage 7: Saturday, May 18 – Livermore to Mt. Diablo
- Stage 8: Sunday, May 19 – San Francisco to Santa Rosa
For further information on the 2013 Amgen Tour of California, and to view the 2013 Amgen Tour of California map, visit www.AmgenTourofCalifornia.com, the City of Palmdale’s Web site, www.cityofpalmdale.org/atoc, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ATOCPalmdale.
(Information via press release from the City of Palmdale.)