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LOWVELO fans pay homage to amazing ambassador

Nancy Evans sits outside

Nancy Evans inspired her family to love cycling and devoted countless time and energy to support important causes in her community.

Though an amazing rider and LOWVELO ambassador will not be at the start line this year, her memory will be a big part of the event.

Nancy Evans, an extraordinary mother, wife, grandmother, teacher, volunteer and LOWVELO rider, passed away on June 13 after a long battle with cancer. A strong and perseverant woman, Evans rode the Boeing 50-mile route in 2019 and raised $5,000 for research at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, all while fighting cancer and recovering from a bilateral knee replacement. She had already signed up to participate in this year’s 57-mile ride and was fiercely passionate about raising funds for cancer research. 

Proving that it’s never too late to start riding a bike, Evans took up cycling at age 71 — right after she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011.

“I wanted to buy a bike,” she said during a 2019 interview. “And so after I got the diagnosis, I sat in the car outside the bike shop, and I said, ‘Now, are you going to go in there and buy a bike like you want, or are you thinking you might die next year from lymphoma?’ And I said, ‘No, I’m going to fight.’”

Evans fought non-Hodgkin’s mantle cell lymphoma for nine and a half years, all the while riding and raising funds for cancer research. Though she was reassured that she didn’t need treatment but rather “watchful waiting” when she was first diagnosed in Seattle, Washington, she didn’t just wait around for cancer. That was never her style. She would go on to ride over 300 miles and raise over $15,000 in her six years of participating in Obliteride, an annual Seattle-based bike ride that raises money for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. 

Her family was continually impressed by her unwavering commitment and the magnitude of her accomplishments and not surprised when she joined LOWVELO, when she came to Charleston, S.C.

Her daughter, Heather Evans, M.D., an MUSC Health surgeon and researcher who will be riding in this year’s LOWVELO, has renamed her peloton “Nee’s Knees” in her mother’s honor. NEE was one of her nicknames. Heather has participated in LOWVELO every year since the inaugural event and will be riding this year in celebration of her mother’s life and to “remember her legacy of defying her diagnosis for almost 10 years and teaching our family to love cycling.”

While Evans loved riding to raise funds for cancer research, she also enjoyed hopping on a bike as a way to connect with her family. She inspired Heather to take up cycling as a way of life, and to ride in both Obliteride and LOWVELO. Evans also spent many hours riding through Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, with her grandsons, Nash and Miles, catching up and sharing stories. 

Heather shared that instead of sending flowers in her memory, please “spend a moment remembering Nancy, letting her live on in your thoughts. Get on your bike this weekend and ride with her.” 

Heather knows one of the best ways she can honor her mother is to do what she was raised to do — volunteer for great causes. “There was not a week I can remember that Mom wasn’t volunteering, donating her time and floral design skills, putting her energy into other people and fueling organizations she believed in. And her energy was limitless.”

Evans’ fierce spirit comes out in the LOWVELO “Why I Ride” video. Heather was so glad her mother was featured in the piece and invites anyone who would like to make a donation in her honor to direct it to the renamed “Nee’s Knees” peloton.

“I’m especially proud to be her daughter because of her commitment to raising money for cancer research,” said Heather. “While she won’t be able to ride as planned, I know she will be with me.”

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