Who Is Riding: Gary Johnston, Team Bike for the Big Guy

David Johnston was 6’5”, so naturally his nickname was “Big Guy.” But it was his always-positive attitude that his family remembers, especially during David’s short and intense battle with colon cancer.

David and Gary

David and Gary

“Dad was never really bitter. He kept telling us you can’t look back, you have to look forward,” said his son, Gary, captain of Team Bike for the Big Guy.

When David lost his battle in May, his wife Susan and their two boys were surrounded by support from their friends and extended family. They were looking for a way to channel that support and remember David in the spirit of his positive outlook.

As a UCSD student, Gary heard about Pedal and decided to sign up. “I didn’t really know what to expect, but I posted it on Facebook and it was really neat to see how many people want to help and support.”

Their team has already raised over $6,000. “My brother was checking on my donations more than I was. It’s encouraging to see other people support you in a positive way.”



The entire Bike for the Big Guy team has a connection to cancer, like Gary’s mom, Susan, who is volunteering at Rider Camp, and Ajay Sapre, who is a researcher at Moores Cancer Center. “It’s really nice to know that we could be helping him and his research,” said Gary.

“Dad taught us to keep moving forward no matter the circumstances. This ride will help us remember him as we move forward and overcome new obstacles in our lives,” added Gary, who is a new rider taking on the two-day course.

“We picked the 2-day because it was the biggest challenge. It’s giving us something to train for and work for. It seems fitting that we have to put in effort.”

Taking on such a physical challenge is also part of the Big Guy legacy. David was a sports lover his whole life, and encouraged his sons to be active.

Sam, Gary and Ajay

Sam, Gary and Ajay

Remembered Gary, “He was always really excited to hear about what I was doing and training for. I think he would be really supportive of the fact that we’re doing something for the research community and also for ourselves – doing something healthy, and bringing my friends together to ride.”

Added Gary, “It’s very helpful to have this outlet – to work toward something and try and bring something positive out of a tragic event.”

In David’s memory, Team Bike for the Big Guy is looking forward, and staying positive.


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