If you ask those around you, you would be hard-pressed to find someone whose life has not been touched by cancer in some way. For me, I lost both grandparents on my mom's side to prostate cancer and lung cancer. I also lost my grandfather on my dad's side to prostate cancer. Ringer staff writer and host of The Ringer NBA Show Jonathan Tjarks, who was extremely influential in my beginnings as a sports writer, is currently battling small round blue cell sarcoma - something adults only have a 1 in 25 million chance of developing.
From beloved family members and close friends, cancer is something that binds all of us together in some way, shape or form. It's also why I, along with countless others, ride VeloSano.
"I'm riding VeloSano, not for any one person in particular but for all of us," said Stephanie Haney, Digital Anchor and Legal Analyst for WKYC. "For you. For me. For people who don't even exist yet. Because cancer is pretty terrible and it has touched so many of our lives and we have an incredible organization in our own backyard in the Cleveland Clinic that is working hard every single day to bring an end to cancer and find ways to treat it if people do end up afflicted with this terrible disease. So, if there's something that I can do to make that work just a little bit easier, I'm gonna do it."
"I lost my grandma Lynne to liver cancer after she already beat colon cancer," Haney shared. "And I lost my Aunt Laurie to skin cancer. They were both far too young and full of life to be taken from us so soon. They were incredible women that the world is really missing out on."
VeloSano, Latin for “swift cure”, is a year-round, community-driven fundraising initiative to support lifesaving cancer research at the Cleveland Clinic. The flagship fundraising event is the “Bike to cure” weekend - where an estimated 1,900 riders will take to the streets of downtown Cleveland by pedal. On top of that, VeloSano is expecting over 600 volunteers as well as 450 fundraisers to participate virtually. Each rider commits to raising a pre-determined amount of money associated with their distance, and 100% of the dollars raised are awarded directly to research by spring of the following year. Since its inception, over $24 million has been raised in the fight against cancer. This year, the eighth VeloSano has raised $3.2 million, and counting, and shows no signs of slowing down.
"We're grateful for the volunteers, riders, virtual fundraisers, corporate partners and donors who've raised over $24 million so far," said Nicole Peters, Executive Director of VeloSano. "Even a donation of $5 adds up to make a difference and helps us raise millions each year, with 100% supporting lifesaving cancer research at Cleveland Clinic."
At Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, part of the NCCN and NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, more than 450 highly skilled doctors, researchers, nurses and technicians care for thousands of patients each year. The Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center unites clinicians and researchers in Taussig Cancer Institute and in Cleveland Clinic's 26 other clinical and surgical institutes, as well as cancer specialists at regional hospitals, health centers and at Cleveland Clinic Florida. Ranked No. 1 in Ohio and No. 5 in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Cleveland Clinic's Cancer Center provides a range of services to patients including clinical trials and internationally-recognized cancer research efforts ensuring patients have access to the latest advances in cancer treatment.
VeloSano is unique in that 100% of the dollars raised support Cleveland Clinic's cancer research. Every mile that participants ride, and every dollar that donors give, is a reminder to Cleveland Clinic of their obligation to pursue research that will make a difference in patients’ lives. Treatment for melanoma, an often deadly form of skin cancer, has been revolutionized by the introduction of new immunotherapy drugs. Cleveland Clinic is researching how this immunotherapy can help patients with other difficult-to-treat cancers, including bladder, brain, lung and kidney cancer.
The Cleveland Clinic is also one of the first cancer centers in the nation to offer a genomics-based approach to cancer care and the money raised can also be used to treat cancer by understanding the underlying genomic make-up, rather than where it is located in the body. With funding provided by VeloSano, the Cleveland Clinic can offer more clinical trials designed by researchers, ensuring they have the best chance of success in beating cancer.
Not only is the eighth VeloSano a continued effort in the ongoing battle against cancer, but it's also a triumphant return to form for the event as a whole. Last year, due to the pandemic the seventh VeloSano Bike to Cure weekend was entirely virtual. As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to evolve, VeloSano’s highest priority was keeping participants, supporters and the community safe and healthy. Now that we now have a better understanding of how to live with COVID-19, along with the vaccine being readily available, people are now able to return in person to bike for a cure together.
There is still time to help and support both VeloSano and the Cleveland Clinic leading up to the event on September 11. Nicole Peters, who serves as Executive Director for VeloSano at the Cleveland Clinic, joined Haney as a guest on this week's 3 Things to Know with Stephanie Haney podcast. She joins explains how people can get involved, and how the event helps raise money for cancer research both locally and around the world.
For those who are interested in riding or volunteering to sign up, there's still time for that prior to this Saturday. Online registration is open until this Wednesday, September 8 at 5 p.m. to register as a rider, virtual fundraiser or volunteer after that, you can do so on-site at Mall B on Friday, September 10 from 12 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. or the following morning starting at 5:30 a.m. sharp.