Awareness & Research

Greatest Escape Motorcycle Ride to Benefit Mesothelioma Research

Written By:
Apr 05, 2022
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Written By: Tim Povtak,
April 5, 2022

Bruce Frederiksen never reached the Pacific Mesothelioma Center for treatment – he died soon after being diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer – but he will be honored at its Greatest Escape Motorcycle Ride through scenic Southern California on April 16.

His daughter will ride in his memory again.

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Greatest Escape Motorcycle Ride returns as one of America’s most prestigious mesothelioma fundraising events, attracting bikers from across the state who proudly rally for the cause.

“Being in this event makes me feel closer to him, like I am honoring him and his memory,” Frederiksen’s daughter, Lisa Oaks, told The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com.  “There’s such a feeling of pride that brings people together for this event. These are wonderful people, his kind of people.”

Ride Benefits Pacific Mesothelioma Center 

Close to 150 bikers will make a winding, 69-mile coastal cruise through the scenic Santa Monica Mountains, starting at the legendary Mulholland Harley-Davidson dealership in Calabasas and finishing at the Simi Valley Elks Lodge.

The event, now in its seventh year, was named after “The Great Escape,” a movie classic known for its motorcycle chase. It stars the legendary actor Steve McQueen, who died from mesothelioma in 1980.

Proceeds will go to the Pacific Mesothelioma Center, one of the most innovative research and treatment organizations in the world for patients with this rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

The center is a division of the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, a nonprofit medical research organization. It also partners with the nearby UCLA Medical Center and the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. Thoracic surgeon and mesothelioma specialist Dr. Robert Cameron is the Pacific Mesothelioma Center’s scientific advisor.

Motorcycle riders in a line
Riders will gather in Southern California April 16 for the annual Greatest Escape Motorcycle Ride to benefit mesothelioma research.
photo courtesy of the Pacific Mesothelioma Center

Daughter Honors Father by Riding Again

Frederiksen died in 2018 at the age of 68, only four months after being diagnosed with advanced-stage pleural mesothelioma. He was a military veteran who served as a Marine Corp firefighter in Vietnam. He later became an avid biker with a daughter he adored.

Bruce Fredericksen
Bruce Frederiksen, who died of mesothelioma in 2018.
Lisa Oaks with her dog and her dad's motorcycle
Lisa Oaks loved riding on the back of her father’s motorcycle when she was a child.

“My dad had me on his motorcycle when I was just 7 or 8 years old,” Oaks said fondly. “Mom wasn’t thrilled to see me on it at such a young age, but I loved it. It was part of my growing up.”

She remembers going to school on her dad’s bike, and the attention it attracted upon her arrival each day. Riding together became a tradition for them.

“His friends were the Harley-Davidson riders,” she said. “They are such good people, the kind he would hang out with, have a beer with. I have a lot of fond memories riding around town with him. It means a lot to see that again.”

Oaks never bought her own motorcycle – she wasn’t confident enough with the safety issues on her own – but loved riding with her father. A month before he died they sold his beloved bike, making sure someone else could enjoy it.

Celebrities Ride for Mesothelioma Research

A year after her father died, Oaks rode in the 6th annual Greatest Escape Motorcycle Ride with a friend, wearing her father’s leather jacket and with his ashes by her side.

She has been a loyal supporter of the Pacific Mesothelioma Center ever since, championing the cause and believing in the work they do there.  She participates in many of its fundraising events, forming Team Bruce for the annual 5K walk for mesothelioma awareness and research.

“It’s another way to keep his memory alive and give back to this organization for all the good work it does,” she said. “I think my dad would appreciate it.”

Oaks will be a passenger again when she rides later this month, soaking in the scenery on the back of a bike while reliving memories of her father .

Among those also expected to ride are actor and musician Sean McNabb, who will serve as grand marshal; actress Kristy Swanson, best known for her role in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer;” actor Barry Van Dyke, son of legendary entertainer Dick Van Dyke; and Roger McGrath, an author and historian who often rode with Steve McQueen.

“I met Steve McQueen a few months after “The Great Escape” hit the theaters and rode motorcycles with him,” said McGrath, who also took part in the first six rides. “I knew him for the next 17 years until he died. For me this event is a way to honor Steve’s memory and to contribute to the fight against mesothelioma, while having fun doing so.”