Cycle for Survival is kicking off the first of its high-energy indoor cycling events with the goal of surpassing the $42 million raised last year to help defeat rare malignancies such as ovarian cancer.
Events this year began Jan. 25 and will continue through early March in 19 cities nationwide. Instructors from Equinox — Cycle for Survival’s founding partner — will lead an anticipated 37,500 individuals in efforts to fund research directed by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the event’s owner and operator.
The fundraiser’s first weekend began in Dallas, Miami, Seattle, and a new location — Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Already, the effort has received pledges totaling more than $14 million. Since its 2007 inception, Cycle for Survival has raised $234 million for research. More than 250,000 people made donations last year to 36,000 riders in 16 cities.
“I was just 31 years old when I was diagnosed with a rare and incurable brain cancer,” Brienne Bellavita, Cycle for Survival team captain, said in a press release. “I take comfort in knowing that the doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering are continually researching innovative ways to help cure my cancer and other rare cancers. I know my doctor is working every day to find a way to save my life.”
Roughly 850,000 individuals — about half of all cancer patients — are diagnosed each year with a rare form of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 21,750 women this year will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Because research into rare diseases is largely underfunded, many patients have few, if any, therapeutic options. Cycle for Survival funds have led to studies in small cell carcinoma of the ovary, an aggressive form of rare cancer with limited treatments available, and for recurrent and low-grade serous ovarian cancer.
It has also led to research on a novel chemotherapy delivery method — heated chemo injected into the abdomen at the time of surgery — in highly recurrent ovarian cancers.
Cycle for Survival teams commit to raising a minimum of $1,000 per indoor bike. Teams can register multiple bikes, with up to eight riders each. Participants can take turns during a four-hour indoor cycling shift, divided into four consecutive 50-minute sessions. Each team captain sets the ride schedule. “Extreme” riders have their own bike for four hours, and pledge to raise at least $4,000.