The Pedal the Cause fundraiser helps cancer research in St. Louis through an annual cycling challenge.
In August, Michael and Marcie were featured by a St. Louis news channel for Marcie’s participation in the ride.
The cause holds a special place in the couple’s lives. Early in their relationship, Michael was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Meeting at Missouri State
Michael and Marcie met at Missouri State University while working at an ice cream restaurant. They both graduated in 1994. Marcie received a bachelor’s degree in biology, and Michael received a bachelor’s in accounting.
The two pursued graduate studies in different cities — with Marcie in Chicago for physical therapy school and Michael in St. Louis for law school — before settling down in St. Louis.
“It was back when you had to pay for your long-distance calls, and it was very expensive,” Michael said.
“But it was worth it,” Marcie chimed in.
The two had no idea what else the future had in store for them.
Overcoming challenging times
In his second year of law school, Michael started experiencing strange symptoms. He visited the doctor after his December finals.
While inside a CAT scan machine, Michael suddenly passed out. The doctors discovered a tangerine-sized tumor in his chest that was cutting off the blood flow from his head.
“I remember the phone call and him telling me that he was in the ICU and that it looked like cancer,” Marcie said. “I had to finish one more final, and I just remember crying the whole time.”
Marcie finished her final, borrowed a friend’s car and drove from Chicago to St. Louis to be with Michael. Michael’s family also came to support him.
“Michael was diagnosed with cancer, and of course that had us all in a state of flux for a while,” said Michael’s father, Everett Hayes.
Michael would spend his winter break in and out of the hospital.
He started chemotherapy during the spring semester. He only slowed down when he had to, but he continued taking courses and even interning at the federal courthouse in St. Louis.
By the end of the summer, he finished treatment. He went on to finish law school and earn a Master of Laws in Taxation degree.
He attributes his resilience to being young at the time.
“I don’t think I realized exactly what I was getting into,” Michael said. “When you’re young, you still think you’re indestructible.”
Now, Michael has been in remission for 25 years, and the couple is paying it forward.
Discovering a way to give back
Marcie became interested in the Pedal the Cause after some weekend bike rides with a group of Michael’s friends from work.
“Once I looked into it a little bit more, I thought it would give me a good fitness goal while also allowing me to raise money for cancer research,” Marcie said. “So, it’s beneficial in a number of ways.”
Marcie knows the importance of raising money for research: She is a professor of physical therapy and orthopedic surgery at Washington University in St. Louis.
Since 2013, she’s raised $21,065.05.
“It’s fantastic,” said Michael, who is now vice president of income tax for Charter Communications.
“The doctors originally told me that if I’d been diagnosed 10 years earlier, I wouldn’t have survived. So, knowing what I went through and what others go through, I know how much that research money makes a difference.”
The couple’s family root for Marcie as much as they can.
“We all support it,” said Everett. “It’s been quite a rewarding experience for all of us.”
Coming from a long line of Bears
Both Michael and Marcie grew up close to Springfield. Neither of them questioned that they’d attend MSU for college.
“I grew up on campus, since my father worked there,” Michael said.
Everett and his wife, Nila, worked at MSU for more than 25 years.
Everett worked in computer services starting in 1974.
Nila started as an accountant for financial services in 1979. She became director of accounting in June 1985, controller in 1998 and chief financial officer in 2008.
Everett retired in 2002, and Nila in 2011.
Nila also received her bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1978 and her MBA in 1985 from MSU.
Like Michael and Marcie, Everett and Nila also met while on campus.
“Being a Bear has been a great part of our lives,” Nila said. “I went to school there. I got a job there. Everett and I met there. The kids went there. We love to watch how the university has grown.”
Everett also volunteers as a scorekeeper for the basketball games, something he’s done for more than 25 years.
Reaching goals and setting new ones
After spending years going through ups and downs, Michael and Marcie decided to train for a new challenge — one that only 40% of people succeed at.
They successfully reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in June 2019. Now, they are working towards completing the Ozark Trail.
“We started training to do Kilimanjaro,” said Marcie. “And then we just kind of got bit by the hiking bug.”
They try to donate every year to give back to future Bears.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, having a university that supported us financially and personally was wonderful,” Marcie said. “We just have a lot of appreciation for the gift Missouri State is.”
They also attend alumni events and basketball games to stay in touch with the MSU community.
“It was always home,” Michael said. “It always will be a second home.”