Cyclist to ride in honor of Phillip Ellis
By By Kerry Whipple Bean
When Johnny Brewer rides his bike in a Monroe County Relay for Life event next month, every one of the 88 miles will be in honor of W.S. Neal High School Principal Phillip Ellis.
Brewer — who knows Ellis through family members — will participate for the second year in the Peddlin’ for a Cure event, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society which will see bicyclists ride 88 miles from the Monroe County courthouse to the USS Alabama in Mobile. The event will take place April 2.
Brewer, a longtime avid cyclist, first rode in the event last year. When he signed on again, Ellis — who has battled cancer for the past year — was the first person who came to mind.
Ellis’s daughter Karen is married to Brewer wife’s brother, but Brewer, who teaches music at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, had known Ellis in education circles before their family connection began. He got to know Ellis better when the marriage united their families.
Ellis was diagnosed last spring with multiple myeloma, a rare but aggressive form of cancer. After a particularly difficult winter spent at UAB Medical Center in Birmingham, family and friends report he is improving.
W.S. Neal agriculture teacher Todd Williamson said Ellis even called him earlier this month before the annual calf show at the local stockyard to tell him he wished he could be there.
Brewer said he has been impressed by Ellis’ attitude since his diagnosis.
The money Brewer raises for his ride will go to the American Cancer Society, for cancer research and support services for patients and families.
To help Brewer, contact him through his Facebook page, called “Peddlin’ for a Cure–88 Miles in Honor of Phillip Ellis.”
More than 200 people have signed on as fans of Brewer Facebook page for Peddlin’ for a Cure, many of them Ellis’ former students. Many of the comments offer prayers and support for Ellis, as well as wishing luck to Brewer on his ride.
As one former student writes simply: “We all love Mr. Ellis.”