On Sunday, over 800 people gathered in Boston for Cycle for Survival, an annual indoor team cycling event that raises funds for rare cancer research at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC).
The event is a part of a larger national movement, as Cycle for Survival is annually hosted in 13 U.S. cities. The athletic fundraiser is hosted by Equinox, which is a founding partner of Cycle for Survival, in locations across the country. The event features a high-energy, four-hour cycling session taught by Equinox cycling instructors, with numerous teams pedaling to meet fundraising goals.
Owned and operated by the MSKCC, the nation’s leading center for cancer research, Cycle for Survival donates all of its proceeds directly. Within six months of each cycling event, all of the funds raised go to pioneering rare cancer clinical trials and research studies at the MSKCC. The immediate and direct funding significantly reduces the time it takes for treatments to reach patients, and it has led to better and more effective treatments for numerous cancer patients, according to a press release. Since its conception in 2007, Cycle for Survival has raised over $42.9 million for cancer research and has contributed to over 85 clinical trials.
“What Cycle for Survival does, I believe, is allow the best and brightest, at MSKCC and beyond, to take bigger risks-and that’s where the cures are going to come from,” said Ross Levine, a physician-scientist at MSKCC. “I want everyone participating in Cycle for Survival to realize that they have a direct impact on the lives of cancer patients now and a tremendous impact on the lives of cancer patients moving forward.”
Jennifer Goodman Linn and her husband, Dave Linn, founded Cycle for Survival after noticing a gap in research funding for rare cancers. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), a rare cancer is one affecting fewer than 200,000 individuals in the U.S. Approximately half of the 1.6 million diagnosed cancer patients in the U.S. have rare forms of the disease. Rare cancers include pancreatic, thyroid, brain, stomach, ovarian, and pediatric, among others. Despite their prevalence, research on rare cancers is severely underfunded-thus, treatment options are limited.
A patient of the MSKCC, Goodman Linn was diagnosed in 2004 with a sarcoma, a rare cancer. Her desire to beat cancer and help other patients diagnosed with rare cancers came to fruition through the creation of Cycle for Survival. Linn passed away in 2011, but her fervor and legacy lives on through the success of Cycle for Survival.
Dave Linn hosted the Boston Cycling for Survival event on Sunday, with numerous patients, survivors, doctors, and supporters in attendance. The high-energy event focused on empowering those affected by cancer, both patients and supporters alike. Over 800 adults and children gathered at the Boston Equinox to show their support. A “tribute wall” lined the room with the hand-written, personal messages and stories of those with loved ones affected by cancer. The day included two cycling sessions with numerous cycling teams participating, all dressed in apparel that featured Cycle for Survival’s slogan-“Join the Battle.” This call to action echoed throughout the entire event, fostering a great sense of community and empowerment among the supporters and patients.
The event also featured an Impact Ceremony, an emotional reflection on those who lost the battle to cancer, and an inspiring look at all that Cycle for Survival has accomplished.
“If somebody is diagnosed, they are not alone,” Linn said at the ceremony. “They have the entire Cycle for Survival community right there standing together with them.”
One of the featured speakers at the impact ceremony was Barry Gallup, Sr., the associate athletic director for football operations at Boston College. Gallup has been greatly influential in the BC football community, with over 34 years of experience as a member of the staff. Following his time as one of the best receivers in school history, Gallup served as a BC assistant coach for 20 years and returned to his alma mater as assistant athletics director for football operations after nine years of head coaching at Northeastern.
Gallup, along with his wife Victoria Gallup and his son Barry Gallup, Jr., represented Team FabuLisa at Cycle for Survival, cycling in remembrance of his daughter, Lisa Gallup. Lisa, BC ’09, was diagnosed with a stage IV sarcoma in 2011. At the time of her diagnosis, Lisa was a nurse in Manhattan. Despite intense chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Lisa continues to care for her patients, ran a half-marathon, finished a triathlon, and received her master’s degree from NYU before her death. Her desire to help others suffering from cancer like hers drove her to bring Cycle for Survival to her home of Boston. The Gallup family continues the Boston location of Cycle for Survival, one of the most successful locations in the country, in honor of her legacy.
“I have been fortunate to be in a lot of bowl games-I was with Doug Flutie when he won the Heisman trophy,” Gallup, Sr. said. “But Cycle for Survival is the most inspirational and emotional and inspiring event that I have ever been a part of. We are going to win this battle against cancer.”