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Trek Across Maine: Riding 180 miles to stop lung cancer

George Eastman has been riding to fight lung cancer for 23 years and has no plans of slowing down.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Lung cancer kills more men and women in the United States than any other cancer. On June 17, hundreds of amateur cyclists will be hitting the road as they bike 180 miles to raise money and awareness for a disease that is largely preventable during the 38th annual Trek Across Maine. 

Among those cyclists and the hundreds of volunteers will be George and Lynette Eastman of Pittston. 

"I'm not a real, what you'd called, fast cyclist," George Eastman said. 

The 71-year-old may not be the fastest Mainer on two wheels but he is certainly dedicated. This summer will be his 23rd year riding for Trek Across Maine. His wife, Lynette, isn't far behind. She's been volunteering for the three-day trek for 22 years now. 

"Doing good for somebody else is also good for us and makes us feel good," Lynette Eastman said. 

Over the last two decades, the Eastman's have raised more than $30,000 for the American Lung Association. Trek Across Maine has raised more than $29 million over the years, and the money goes toward cancer research and programs and initiatives aimed at preventing smoking, like banning the sale of flavored tobacco products. 

This year, registered cyclists, which are usually more than 1,500 riders, are down to less than 700. Trek organizers said many other events are seeing a similar decrease in participants since the pandemic.

For the Eastman's, lung cancer hits close to home. Both George and Lynette lost their parents to lung cancer and have family members dealing with the disease. According to America's Health Rankings, 15.5% of Americans still smoke. In Maine, that number is a little higher at 16.5%.

Trek Across Maine takes place on Father's Day weekend. Cyclists will ride from Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick to Bates College, then on to St. Joseph's College in Standish, and then back to Brunswick. Along the way, riders and volunteers stay in dorm rooms at the colleges.

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