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Elizabeth Township native pedals his message of hope coast to coast

| Thursday, May 2, 2013, 3:51 a.m.
Elizabeth Township native Andy Sninsky this spring rode his bike from Florida to McKeesport. Sninsky, who now lives in Newport Beach, Calif., suffers from an incurable form of blood and bone cancer called myeloma. He will speak at Gilda’s Club Western Pennsylvania on Smallman Street in the Strip District on June 11.

Andy Sninsky has toured the country by bike extensively through the years.

A native of the Boston section of Elizabeth Township who lives in Southern California, he made his first cross-country trip from California to New York City in 1968.

Last week, he pedaled back into town using the Great Allegheny Passage to complete a cycling journey that started in Tampa, Fla.

It's an impressive trip for anyone but even more so for Sninsky — he suffers from an incurable form of blood and bone cancer called myeloma.

“I was diagnosed in 2008,” said Sninsky, 64.

The cyclist and lifelong adventurer said he went through a series of treatments that included radiation, chemotherapy and stem cell transplants.

His cancer went into remission but the treatments weakened him. To regain his strength, Sninsky said he began walking, then riding his bike.

The cycling regimen started with short trips but grew into longer and longer rides.

He made his first major trip after his diagnosis last year, going from New Orleans to Florida and speaking to cancer survivor groups along the way.

He resumed that journey this spring with his trip up the East Coast.

“I wanted to give people the idea not to give up if they have cancer,” said Sninsky, who is retired from a career operating a white water touring company. Sninsky said he plans to ride as much as he can while he remains in good health.

He has lived on the West Coast since 1960 but still considers the Mon Valley home. He will be in the area through next week and will return to Pittsburgh on June 11 to talk about his journey at Gilda's Club Western Pennsylvania along Smallman Street in the Strip District.

On that same visit he plans to attend the ribbon-cutting for the opening of the final section of the Steel Valley Trail by Sandcastle Waterpark on June 15.

Sninsky said his trip from the nation's capital using the C&O Canal Towpath Trail and Great Allegheny Passage was an enjoyable one.

“You never have to deal with any cars and you pass through so much history,” said Sninsky, who plans to show his support for bike trails by donating the Trek bicycle he used for his long distance trips to the Mon Yough Trail Council so they can auction it for fund-raising purposes.

Work continues on a section of dedicated trail from the Marina at McKees Point to RIDC City Center of McKeesport. The 3,850 feet of trail running parallel to the railroad tracks along Fourth Avenue is expected to be completed by the city by the end of May.

For more information about Sninsky's travels, visit his website at

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or