Why I Give Back: John Matthews’ Quest to Find a Cure for Lung Cancer

By Christopher Putvinski

Regardless of whether you know SAP employee John Matthews, chances are you’ll be hearing his name in the coming months.

The reason? John is preparing to undertake the greatest, most challenging journey of his life: A nearly 3,400-mile bike ride beginning this August that will see him traverse the United States, starting in Philadelphia and ending in San Francisco.

But even more impressive than the ride itself is John’s motivation behind it—a cause that John has wholly dedicated himself to for the past six years, when he lost his beloved mother, Kathleen.

When John’s mom was diagnosed with lung cancer back in 2011, John and his family were moved to try and do something to eradicate this brutal disease. They watched her struggle.  They watched her fight.  And, ultimately, they watched as she said goodbye to her loving husband, 6 children, and 19 grandkids.

It was through this struggle that John and his family were inspired to do something. As John himself put it, “Little did we know that Mom would fight her fight, and she would inspire our family to fight for all lung cancer patients.”

Background: How did the bike ride idea start?

In 2011, when John’s mother was still fighting, John’s family was introduced to lung cancer survivor Bonnie Addario.

During a 5K in Philadelphia, benefitting Bonnie’s organization, the Bonnie J Addario Lung Cancer Foundation(BJALCF), John’s mom met Bonnie.  As John describes it, “there was an instant and deep connection between the two women.”

That connection would prove to be a powerful one for John; it would last until present day and beyond, fostering something very special.

Saying goodbye to Mom

John’s mom passed away in December of that year. With her passing, John and his family bolstered their commitment to end lung cancer. As John wrote, “we decided that if Mom could fight so hard for her lung cancer, we could fight just as hard for all lung cancer.”

Each year, “Kathleen’s Krew” supports the BJALCF 5K in Philadelphia.  They make shirts, recruit 50+ runners and volunteers, and raise the most money of any team—every single time.  Their last 5k raised a staggering $22,000.

John takes his commitment to the next level

As each year passed, John’s family became more and more involved in raising funds to end lung cancer.

His nephew organized a fundraising event at his high school. John’s son interned with BJALCF. His niece organized a lemonade stand. And last year, Bonnie J Addario visited SAP headquarters in Newtown Square, participating in a panel discussion with John; Rick Knowles, SVP Apple Partnership SAP; Dr. David Delaney, Chief Medical Officer, North America; and Gregory Pumilia, VP at SAP.

Now John is preparing to take his commitment to the next level—his cross-country bike ride will raise awareness and money to help find a cure for lung cancer. He is working closely with Bonnie and her foundation and a host of others too: Lung Cancer Alliance, Lung Cancer Initiative, Adventure Cycling Association, and Guy’s Bicycles.

This ride also includes support from SAP and many of its employees, some of whom John insisted I call out. As he is well aware, this ride would not be possible without their generous offer of time, passion, and commitment.

Special thanks to:

Rick Knowles – Christine Donato – Tone Branson- Chelsea Crawford – Janis Fratamico – Anik Roy – Benny Kayser – Barb Kavetski – Chris Putvinski – Sebastian Wagner – Beth Solomon


How can you help? Get involved and share us on social media!

Follow John’s ride from start to finish.  Join us on:

And if you’d like to volunteer directly, we’d love to have you.  The Ride Hard Breathe Easy team is still accepting volunteers. We can use all the help we can get! Please reach out to John Matthews orridehardbreatheeasy@gmail.com

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