Rick Kackley, who graduated Monett High School in 1971, is fulfilling one of the goals on his "bucket list."
Kackley will take a motorcycle journey from Dallas, Texas, on March 30, travel to the California coast and up the Pacific Coast Highway until he reaches the Sequoia National Forest and views the mighty redwoods of northern California.
Kackley, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran who is disabled and fighting lung cancer, will only be able to make the 4,000-mile trip in 300-mile increments, weather permitting.
"I left Monett to play music and joined the Air Force at a very early age," Kackley said. "During that time, I got too close to a nuclear bomb.
"I left the Air Force in 1983 and began traveling with several big-name entertainers and in Branson for awhile," Kackley said.
He lists performing with the Shoji Tabuchi Show, Box Car Willie, Johnny Harra and the Wild Wood Flower among his musical credits.
"I was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 1997," Kackley said. "The doctors said it would eventually take my life. It didn't.
"But, in 2008 I was diagnosed with lung cancer and had the bottom left lobe removed," he continued. "In 2009 and 2010, I was treated for throat cancer with radiation and chemotherapy. Last year, I was diagnosed with lung cancer again, this time in both lungs."
Fighting the debilitating disease time and time again, Kackley decided to take action. He formed a group called Bikers Against Cancer (BAC), and those members will take to the highway in the next couple of weeks to not only fulfill Kackley's "bucket list" goal, but to raise awareness in the fight against cancer.
The trip will be a race against time, between Kackley's chemotherapy and body scans to determine if the tumors are shrinking.
"We will be distributing T-shirts, lung cancer wristbands, business cards, patches, stickers and hats from Team Duke (the late John Wayne) along the way," Kackley said. "We will also be stopping at Harley-Davidson dealerships along the way. Supporters from those locations can join the ride for however long they wish."
Kackley's wife, Elizabeth, his son, Chad Shindle, and grandson, Conner, support Kackley in his decision to make the journey.
Sights Kackley hopes to see along the way include Highways 1 and 101, the Yucaipa National Forest, the Grand Canyon, the Redwood Forest, and Tombstone, Ariz. He also hopes to obtain holistic treatment from several Indian reservations along the way.
"Lung cancer kills more people every year than all other cancers combined," Kackley said. "I realize it's too late for me, but if I can help anyone else live longer, that would bless my heart more than anything.
"This is my dream ride," Kackley said. "With the help of God and some great friends, anything is possible."
There are other things Kackley hopes to accomplish in the coming weeks and months.
"I want to record a CD of my songs," he said. "I want this ride to become an annual event, along with fundraising concerts during the summer, and all of the proceeds going to cancer research."
Kackley's message to others is a simple one.
"Never give up," he said. "Live each day one at a time to its fullest."
Those wishing to donate to Kackley's fundraising efforts may do so by visiting www.teamduke.com and click the link "find athlete/donate" and click on "Rick Kackley" or visit http://freetobreathe.com and click on Dallas. Look for the top fundraisers scrolling bar and click "Rick Kackley."
"We could use all the help we can get," Kackley said. "Over 440 lives are lost to this unpredictable disease each day. It's an awful way to go, and it kills too many people now."
Those wishing to follow the travels of Bikers Against Cancer can find them on Facebook.