Aaron and Aleena Roeschley want to pedal for a cause that's close to their hearts.

A year and a half ago, one of Aaron's students at Rio Rico High School, Delia Gonzalez, 17, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare blood disorder.

To raise awareness about Delia's disease and other bone marrow disorders, the couple will begin a tandem bike ride across the country on Sunday.

Aplastic anemia is a disease of the bone marrow. It comes when the bone marrow stops making enough red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets for the body. People with severe forms are at risk for life-threatening infections or bleeding.

"We didn't know anything about it until someone we knew was diagnosed, and many people have never heard of it either," said Aaron, 29.

The teacher and his wife, 22, were planning to take a trip during the summer, once she graduated from the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.

But the couple wanted the trip to have a purpose. And even though they both have relatives who suffered from diseases like cancer, they decided to raise awareness about Delia's illness. The Roeschleys also have gotten to know her more as leaders of a Christian group.

The couple's goal is to raise funds to benefit the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation as it searches for a cure for this disease and other bone marrow disorders.

Their goal is to raise $3,000. So far, they have raised $1,100 through a website they've set up for the trip. As they journey, they plan on talking about the disease and handing out bracelets and pamphlets.

It will take 40 days and about 3,000 miles for the Roeschleys to complete their journey, which will start in San Diego and end in Savannah, Ga. The couple will fly back home.

"We are hoping to go through Phoenix, then Austin and stay there, and we are hoping to go to New Orleans, too," said Aaron, who already has biked across the country once before.

Nights will be spent at campgrounds, with family and friends, or in hotels, Aleena said. The couple will attach a trailer to the bike to carry camping gear, a tent and sleeping bags. They plan to ride 80 miles a day.

Marta Gonzalez, Delia's mother, said it's such an honor that the Roeschleys want other people to know more about this.

Because the couple isn't leaving from Arizona, she held a send-off party on Saturday at her Tubac home.

"We are just so proud they are going to do this," Marta said. "We know more about cancer, but there are other diseases than just cancer."

Contact reporter Mariana Alvarado at 573-4597 or malvarado@azstarnet.com