Three men pose with their sports cars.

Cousins to Rev Down Route 66 for a Reason

Three men pose with their sports cars.

By Stacey Sheehan

In a remarkable blend of adventure and advocacy, cousins John, Mitch, and Mike are gearing up for a cross-country charity journey along Route 66. Their mission? To raise awareness and support for two important causes: cystic fibrosis and colorectal cancer.

Motivated by Personal Connections

The three men share personal inspiration from connections close to their hearts. A grandfather's battle with colon cancer serves as a poignant reminder of the disease's far-reaching impact on family members, while the recent diagnosis of a friend named Mark, age 48, reflects an unsettling trend: Colorectal cancer has a new target - young adults

The trend is further underscored by the health challenges facing a good friend's two daughters. One received a colorectal cancer diagnosis in her twenties, the other is embracing life with cystic fibrosis, choosing happiness and gratitude at every turn.

A recent report released by the American Cancer Society states that rates have increased by 1% to 2% per year since the mid-1990s in those younger than 55 years of age and now recommends screening much earlier.

“We need to talk about colorectal cancer. People may not realize that younger folks are getting diagnosed. Everyone age 45 and over should be screened, sooner if you have a family history. Early detection saves lives.” said Steven Bushong of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. 

A Shared Passion for Cars

Their journey isn't just about raising funds for important causes, it's about celebrating a shared passion for cars and the open road. 

Growing up in Ohio, the cousins were separated by life's twists, turns, and speedbumps, only to reconnect later in life over their mutual affection for automobiles. 

John Phillips, who refers to himself as a "Motorhead," found solace and purpose in car building as part of his recovery after being hit by a drunk driver. At the same time, Mitch's extensive experience behind the wheel as a national sales representative lends navigation, experience, and a unique perspective to the journey. Mike, a retired educator who discovered his love for cars through local car shows at the age of 13 brings passion and deep experience with cars, including performance and driver education. 

The cars of choice for this journey include a Miata, an Audi TT, and a hand-built 1965 Cobra roadster replica which will be making its maiden voyage.

Preparation and Logistics

As they prepare to embark on their epic journey, meticulous planning and preparation are underway. From securing sponsors and coordinating logistics to organizing the daily itinerary and packing essentials, the cousins are leaving no stone unturned. 

Amidst the hustle and bustle, they remain grounded in their shared mission — to raise awareness and financial support for three organizations doing important work.

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance seeks to end colorectal cancer in our lifetime. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis, and Team Boomer, a foundation offering support to adults with cystic fibrosis.

Challenges and Support

Despite the excitement surrounding their upcoming adventure, they acknowledge there may be a few challenges stemming from long hours spent crammed in classic cars, battling fatigue, stiff legs, and the seductive call of fast food. 

Still, the cousins are fueled by the unwavering support of sponsors, family, and friends, who will be cheering them on at various points along the way. 

Armed with ambition, sneakers, and folding bicycles, John, Mitch, and Mike are determined to stay active and explore the sights and sounds of iconic Route 66, even as they traverse thousands of miles across the country.

“I believe my biggest personal obstacle on this trip will be my arthritis and sciatica. My wife thinks it will be speed limits, but that’s another story!” said Mitch Cline. “Aleve will take care of the joint pains, but I’ll have to rely on credit cards for the self-inflicted pain of any speeding tickets!” 

The Road Ahead

As they prepare to embark on their 2,500-mile, two-week odyssey this May, the cousins are filled with a mix of excitement and anticipation. 

They have always wanted to take this trip. Route 66 has changed dramatically over the years, and there is some concern that if they don’t go soon, they may never get the chance to truly capture the nostalgic experience. 

Mike Cline hopes to gain a lot from this experience. ”Honor my family and build a stronger family bond by spending time with my brother and cousin, create increased awareness for colorectal cancer and cystic fibrosis, and gain a greater appreciation for the history of an American icon…The Mother Road…Route 66.”

From the historic landmarks of Chicago to the sun-drenched landscapes of California, their journey promises to be an unforgettable experience filled with laughter, camaraderie, and the occasional pit stop for roadside attractions. 

Amidst the excitement, there's a palpable sense of purpose. Each mile traveled is a step closer to their goal of raising awareness and funds for organizations near and dear to their hearts. With every passing town and city, they hope to spark conversations, ignite passion, and inspire others to join their cause.

Spreading Their Message

“We really wanted to show people that three old guys can make a difference," said John. "You know, no matter how old you are, you can help in one way or another. Sometimes it's just a matter of thinking outside the box a little. The world is pretty divisive. Get wrapped up in something good. Use what you’ve got, get creative, and you can make a difference.”

“C3 on Route 66” has a powerful message to share: No matter your age or background, you have the power to make a difference. They invite you to join them on their journey, whether it's by donating to their cause through their website or by simply sharing their story. 


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