Riding for a Cure

Just one true story behind the Tour de Pier’s “Why I Ride” campaign

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    Darren Elms


A few years ago Hermosa Beach’s Chip Hackley and wife Tara were informed that their 2½-year-old son, Chinny, had a brain tumor. Overwhelmed with shock and grief, Chip kept asking himself, “How could a healthy little boy have cancer?”

The doctor informed the couple that surgery was needed within days to remove the tumor quickly. After several hours of surgery, the doctors brought Chip and Tara into a separate room away from the other visitors.

“The doctor said that the tumor was inoperable and didn’t say much else,” remembers Chip. “That was the lowest point for me.” In a daze, he walked out of the room, past his family and friends who were waiting to hear the news, and just completely broke down and cried. As a father and husband, he knew it was necessary to pull himself together, be strong for his family and do everything he could to make his son well again.

After the first meeting with Chinny’s oncologist, Chip received news that would completely change his outlook on the situation. The doctor said there was a 50/50 chance to cure his son with chemo and, eventually, another surgery. For Chip this was all he needed to hear … hope. From that point forward, Chip and Tara went into complete fighting mode, spending every waking moment for the next six to seven months researching the best treatment.  

“There are some posters around town with his picture on them for the Tour de Pier. So he thinks he is famous.”

A few doctors told Chip that if his son did indeed live through this, he wouldn’t flourish and live a normal healthy life. That was almost five years ago. 
“Chinny is doing great,” shares Chip on his son’s amazing recovery. “He is the picture of perfect health. It will be five years this summer since he had his last surgery. The doctors told us last summer after his last scan to consider him ‘cancer-free.’”

Although this was a major challenge for Chip, it was also a huge learning experience. With the right leadership, he understood how strong his family could be, especially with his wife by his side. “I was just in awe of her strength,” he says. “I realize now how precious life is and how quickly it can end.”  

Alongside his dad, Chinny exemplifies the Tour de Pier’s  “Why I Ride” campaign. He’s a fighter.

“We are friends with Heath Gregory, co-founder of the Tour de Pier, and his wife, Mandy,” says Chip of his connection to Tour de Pier. “Heath told us about this fabulous event, and we instantly became attracted to the cause.” After months of fundraising, Chip will ride along with countless others in search of a cure for cancer. He believes that with advance technology and strong research, finding a cure is close.

Will Chinny be there? You bet. “There are some posters around town with his picture on them for the Tour de Pier,” says his proud father. “So he thinks he is famous.”

The fourth annual Tour de Pier will take place Sunday, May 15 at 7:30 a.m. on The Strand overlooking the Manhattan Beach Pier. For more information, visit tourdepier.com.