Obliteride 2021 unites record number of participants worldwide

Fred Hutch’s community fundraiser welcomes thousands to help cure cancer faster

Each of the more than 5,000 participants in the 2021 Obliteride had their own inspiration for advancing research at Fred Hutch.

Video by Fred Hutch Obliteride

On Saturday, Aug. 14, more than 5,000 people worldwide rode their bikes, cooked, kayaked and more for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s annual Obliteride. From Seattle to Singapore, the community fundraiser united people to honor loved ones, have fun and raise money for lifesaving research.

Participants of all ages and abilities from 42 countries, all 50 U.S. states and six continents chose their own activity and fundraising goals and have raised more than $3 million to date.

Donna Modrell did 40,000 jumping jacks. Areum Yoon and her husband paddleboarded to honor her mother-in law, who is in treatment for brain cancer. And Mary Mehlert and a friend sold jelly and pie filling for donations. “We spent two weekends picking and canning because we want to live in a world where no one has to fear cancer,” Mehlert said, “and Fred Hutch’s research saves lives.”

Now, Obliteriders will continue to fundraise until the season closes on Thursday, Sept. 30. Every dollar donated to participants goes directly to research to stop cancer, HIV, COVID-19 and other diseases.

Nine-year rider Rex Miller was out on his bike this month. “It’s hard not to be bitter when you lose a loved one to cancer,” Miller said, “but the advances in research at Fred Hutch and the Obliteride community are what keep me coming back every year.”

More than 400 teams, including 185 from global sponsor Amazon, connected family, friends and coworkers around the world. One of them was the Seattle-based SeaRiders team.

“We don’t ride to win races or get places. We ride to feel free and strong,” said SeaRiders team member Xiaowei "Linda" Li.

Obliteride Director Jim Birrell said that the energy from participants in 2021 has been "amazing." 

“We’re so grateful to our participants, donors and sponsors," he said. "Now we are looking forward to our ten-year anniversary in 2022.”

This year and in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led Fred Hutch to shift Obliteride from its traditional in-person bike ride, walk and run to a virtual platform, allowing people to choose their own activity and join in from anywhere.

“With the help of COVID experts at Fred Hutch and others, we hope to overcome the pandemic and hold an in-person event next year,” Birrell said. “But whether we are together in person or in spirit, we look forward to joining this incredible community to help cure cancer faster.”

Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Tom Lynch, who holds the Raisbeck Endowed Chair, and other members of the Fred Hutch community share their gratitude with participants in the 2021 Obliteride.

Video by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

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