Article & Photos By: Jeremy Pedersen Relic Customs
Originally Published In The February 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Back in July, I received a call from my good friend Jason “Tolly” Tollefson. Right outta the gate, he informs me that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer. An ongoing cough, that eventually kept him from sleeping well, took him to see a doctor. The test results came back cancer; the last thing anyone would have thought. Tolly went on to tell me about how things would play out with multiple tests, chemotherapy treatments, radiation treatments, and the expectancies of this type of cancer. The doctors told him there was an 80% survival rate with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. All the while he was telling me this heavy news, I was thinking about how we had grown up together. We have known each B other since age 5 or 6, went through school together playing youth hockey, riding dirt bikes, building car stereos and mini trucks; twenty-five years of great memories. This was not the way that I had expected this Friday night to begin.
So, through some text messages and conversations, a few of us thought that something had to be done to help Tolly’s family with the impending burden of medical bills they would soon be carrying. Initially, four of us sat down to plan out a ride and charity benefit. The group consisted of Tolly’s soon to be brother-in-law Justin Steinbach, my cousin Jason Blom, my brother Nick Pedersen and me. The ride came to be a 140 mile run through the southeast Minnesota bluffs with four stops. After returning to the starting point, in Austin, MN, it would be followed up with a benefit dinner and fundraising auction. The date was then set for September 24, 2011. None of us actually realized exactly what we had just taken on, but that didn’t matter, it was all in the name of helping a friend. A car wash, garage sale, and people making donations to the family were some of the other events that were put together to help with Tolly’s battle. The amount of items donated to the auction was unbelievable. Items from the Minnesota Wild, Twins, Vikings, Trimble’s Cycle Center, Bergdale Harley Davidson and many other area businesses filled the banquet room where the auction was held. There were also many items donated by builders and custom culture artists like Max Grundy, Union Speed & Style, Nick Sinclair, John Wells, Autonomy Tattoo, Ian Monroe, and Relic Kustoms. One package came all the way from Germany, donated by Michael Perrech, promoter of the Bottrop Kustom Kulture show. And finally, Bell donated two of their custom 500 helmets for me to paint. Both helmets were then flaked, candied and finished identically in the colors which represent Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: green and purple. One helmet I gave to Tolly and the other went on the live auction.
Everything came together very nicely on that Saturday. The weather was beautiful and sunny with temps in the 60s. Tolly was able to lead the ride on his Street Bob, even after having gone through three or more chemo treatments. The attendance was awesome as well. There were 100+ bikes with a dozen or more hotrods following. The benefit dinner and auction was packed to capacity, with family and friends all making very generous donations. With December now cruisin’ by real fast, Tolly is approaching the end of his chemo treatments. Every time I get into the Twin Cities, I stop by his place to see how things are going. He tells stories of all the shit that he has been through, the pains, restlessness, being extremely tired and feeling weak. But, the stories only go so far. Most of us will never understand exactly what he has been through. On my last visit, in mid November, I saw a completely different person. The very first thing Tolly said was that he only had 2 treatments to go; he was super stoked. Final treatment will be right after Christmas. Following that, they will find out if radiation treatments are needed. All of this may have slowed Tolly down a bit, but his attitude has remained positive. His goal is to regain his health, get back to a “normal” life with his wife Steph, and son Talan, and stack up the miles on his motorbike. Stay strong, Brother!