Hutch News

Obliteride riders saddle up to kick cancer to the curb

Nearly 1,000 cyclists pedal their way to $1.6 million (and growing) to help fund Fred Hutch research

Aug. 15, 2014
Obliteride riders

More than 900 people rode about 61,000 miles in the second annual Obliteride event last weekend. So far, the event has raised $1.6 million -- a figure that will grow as fundraising continues throughout September. The money will fund cancer research at Fred Hutch.

Photo by Monologue Photography / Obliteride

Perfect weather, picturesque routes and an enthusiastic mix of survivors, cyclists, spectators and volunteers came together like poetry in motion last weekend for Obliteride, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s big orange bike ride to obliterate cancer.

The second annual event, which so far has netted about $1.6 million, included 913 riders who pedaled close to 61,000 miles to honor loved ones, celebrate survival and raise much-needed funds to help kick cancer to the curb.

“It was a phenomenal weekend,” said Amy Lavin, Obliteride’s executive director, who rode 111 miles over the course of two days. “Just the right balance between cause and celebration. It felt magical.”

Lavin is optimistic that the final fundraising amount – set to be announced at a wrap-up thank you party on Oct. 22 – will surpass last year’s total, especially since fundraising continues full force until Sept. 30.

“Last year, we raised $1.9 million but we have 220 more riders this year,” she said. “And people do keep fundraising after the event. They’re inspired and they talk to people about their experience. Last year, a significant portion of fundraising happened after Obliteride.”

So far, the top fundraising team is the 136-member Lewis & Friends CERCumvent Center , co-captained by Fred Hutch researcher Christopher Li, with a whopping $188,631. Next in line is the 38-member team Village People with $89,099. Every dollar raised during Obliteride goes toward Fred Hutch research.

Rider Rex Miller, who so far has brought in just over $10,000, decided at the last minute to team up with cancer survivor Kevin Wood, who he met during a crucial juncture of last year’s ride.

“I like to say Kevin rescued me last year when I hit my wall,” said Miller. “This year, he said it was because of me that he decided to ride again. He was going to do just the 25-mile ride but we talked about it and decided to ride together and do 85 miles. Then we did 25 miles together the next day.”

Diagnosed four years ago with non-small cell lung cancer, Wood has had one lobe of his left lung removed and has undergone both chemotherapy and the gut punch of recurrence. Today, he credits his survival to the recently developed targeted cancer treatment Tarceva, a daily pill that blocks a critical function in cancer cells, causing them to die.

For him, Obliteride’s cancer-busting mission is very personal.

“It gives me a chance,” said the 52-year-old University of Washington research scientist. “Supporting Fred Hutch means the most exciting lines of research will advance faster.”

Connecting with community

Obliteride's Amy Lavin

Obliteride Executive Director Amy Lavin addresses the crowd at Gas Works Park in Seattle on Friday, August 8.

Courtesy of Obliteride

Wood admits that he and Miller aren’t the fastest cyclists on the road. “There are two groups of people that ride in the long ride: the people who go first and then me and Rex,” he said. But it’s not about speed, it’s about connecting with community.

“Rex was Facebooking during the ride and I was talking to every volunteer,” he said. “Most of them work at Fred Hutch or were survivors or both, and it’s important to connect. It’s who you meet on the ride and what happens on the ride that’s the most compelling. I heard heartbreaking stories and stories of hope. I met researchers. And there was a mom and two kids who set up a lemonade stand just for riders. I probably had 100 names on my arms – people who had cancer in their family or have passed on and their loved ones were remembering them.”

Miller, who penned the names of nearly 50 survivors and lost loved ones onto his jersey, said the camaraderie between riders, the community and volunteer support -- more than 600 volunteers participated -- the shared stories of survival and the incredible scenic route all made for an outstanding experience.

“Riding across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, seeing Mount Rainier off to the left, it was magnificent,” he said. “It was a clear day, warm and sunny, and we met a family on the bridge and stopped and talked with them and took photos. It was all very inspiring. I’m already thinking about next year.”

Want to donate to Obliteride 2014? There’s still time -- fundraising continues until Sept. 30.

Related stories:

Diane Mapes is a staff writer at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She has also written extensively about health issues for nbcnews.com, TODAY.com, CNN.com, MSN.com and several other publications. She also writes the breast cancer blog, doublewhammied.com.Reach her at dmapes@fredhutch.org.

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this story? Be our guest! We want to help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to the original article, preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions? Email editor Linda Dahlstrom at ldahlstr@fredhutch.org.

Want to donate to Obliteride 2014? There’s still time! Fundraising continues until Sept. 30. (LINK:http://getinvolved.fhcrc.org/site/TR?fr_id=1340&pg=pfind)  

Wood admits that he and Miller aren’t the fastest cyclists on the road. “There are two groups of people that ride in the long ride: the people who go first and then me and Rex,” he said. But it’s not about speed, it’s about connecting with community.

 

“Rex was Facebooking during the ride and I was talking to every volunteer,” he said. “Most of them work at Fred Hutch or were survivors or both, and it’s important to connect. It’s who you meet on the ride and what happens on the ride that’s the most compelling. I heard heartbreaking stories and stories of hope. I met researchers. And there was a mom and two kids who set up a lemonade stand just for riders. I probably had 100 names on my arms – people who had cancer in their family or have passed on and their loved ones were remembering them.”

 

Miller, who penned the names of nearly 50 survivors and lost loved ones onto his jersey, said the camaraderie between riders, the community and volunteer support -- more than 600 volunteers participated -- the shared stories of survival and the incredible scenic route all made for an outstanding experience.

 

“Riding across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, seeing Mount Rainier off to the left, it was magnificent,” he said. “It was a clear day, warm and sunny, and we met a family on the bridge and stopped and talked with them and took photos. It was all very inspiring. I’m already thinking about next year.”

Want to donate to Obliteride 2014? There’s still time! Fundraising continues until Sept. 30. (LINK:http://getinvolved.fhcrc.org/site/TR?fr_id=1340&pg=pfind)  

Wood admits that he and Miller aren’t the fastest cyclists on the road. “There are two groups of people that ride in the long ride: the people who go first and then me and Rex,” he said. But it’s not about speed, it’s about connecting with community.

 

“Rex was Facebooking during the ride and I was talking to every volunteer,” he said. “Most of them work at Fred Hutch or were survivors or both, and it’s important to connect. It’s who you meet on the ride and what happens on the ride that’s the most compelling. I heard heartbreaking stories and stories of hope. I met researchers. And there was a mom and two kids who set up a lemonade stand just for riders. I probably had 100 names on my arms – people who had cancer in their family or have passed on and their loved ones were remembering them.”

 

Miller, who penned the names of nearly 50 survivors and lost loved ones onto his jersey, said the camaraderie between riders, the community and volunteer support -- more than 600 volunteers participated -- the shared stories of survival and the incredible scenic route all made for an outstanding experience.

 

“Riding across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, seeing Mount Rainier off to the left, it was magnificent,” he said. “It was a clear day, warm and sunny, and we met a family on the bridge and stopped and talked with them and took photos. It was all very inspiring. I’m already thinking about next year.”

Want to donate to Obliteride 2014? There’s still time! Fundraising continues until Sept. 30. (LINK:http://getinvolved.fhcrc.org/site/TR?fr_id=1340&pg=pfind)  

Wood admits that he and Miller aren’t the fastest cyclists on the road. “There are two groups of people that ride in the long ride: the people who go first and then me and Rex,” he said. But it’s not about speed, it’s about connecting with community.

 

“Rex was Facebooking during the ride and I was talking to every volunteer,” he said. “Most of them work at Fred Hutch or were survivors or both, and it’s important to connect. It’s who you meet on the ride and what happens on the ride that’s the most compelling. I heard heartbreaking stories and stories of hope. I met researchers. And there was a mom and two kids who set up a lemonade stand just for riders. I probably had 100 names on my arms – people who had cancer in their family or have passed on and their loved ones were remembering them.”

 

Miller, who penned the names of nearly 50 survivors and lost loved ones onto his jersey, said the camaraderie between riders, the community and volunteer support -- more than 600 volunteers participated -- the shared stories of survival and the incredible scenic route all made for an outstanding experience.

 

“Riding across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, seeing Mount Rainier off to the left, it was magnificent,” he said. “It was a clear day, warm and sunny, and we met a family on the bridge and stopped and talked with them and took photos. It was all very inspiring. I’m already thinking about next year.”

Want to donate to Obliteride 2014? There’s still time! Fundraising continues until Sept. 30. (LINK:http://getinvolved.fhcrc.org/site/TR?fr_id=1340&pg=pfind)  


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