Updated at 2:04 p.m., Feburary 9
LIVINGSTON, NJ – People came out in droves throughout the country to do their part for Cycle for Survival on Feb. 8—many of them from Livingston, the hometown of founder Jennifer Linn Goodman. Many rode in memory Goodman, who passed away in 2011, Sydney Becker, a Livingston High School sophomore with a rare cancer, and some rode for loved ones who suffered, are suffering or who are survivors as well as for themselves. Regardless as to why they rode—they all had a common goal in mind—raising enough money to fund research to fight rare cancers, which include: brain, pancreatic, bladder, liver, ovarian, some breast types, sarcoma, leukemia, tongue, throat, lymphoma, oral, head, neck, uterine, intestinal, all pediatric cancers, and many more.
Event participation came in many forms. Harrison Elementary School’s fifth graders recently spent their recess time creating posters for each of the over 100 teams to cycle in the event—including teams from every school in the Livingston district. Click here to see photos of the children hard at work.
And, on January 24, Calabria’s Restaurant donated twenty percent of every lunch and/or dinner bill to Goodman’s family’s team—Team: A Mission Continued…Jennifer Goodman Linn.
Aside from all of the school teams, there were many local teams riding including: Team TLC-Township of Livingston Cares, which participated for the third year and consisted of many town employees including Gina Vaccaro and Liliana Branquinho; A Mission Continued..Jennifer Goodman Linn; Team Sydney, for Sydney Becker; and Team Believe, which was captained by Lynda Zarillo, a cancer survivor—just to name a few.
Cycle rider, Brian Geltzeiler (WOHS Class of 1987) who now resides in Livingston said, “It's hard to put into words the energy in that Cycle for Survival room. There is something so empowering about being a part of it. Hearing Jen Goodman Linn's dad speak afterwards was particularly inspiring. Jen has left an incredible legacy. It's an honor to be a part of it.”
“The day was amazing,” said Livingston resident Jennifer Hubert (LHS Class of 1985) who rode with friends from Livingston Dawn Seewald and Donna Seltzer, among others, for Team Sydney [Becker]. “The energy in the room was beyond words. Our entire community came together and people cried and cheered each other on. It was a very special event to be a part of.”
Jeanne Silberman and Greer Gelman from the Cycle for Survival NJ leadership committee said they want to "thank everyone for their continued support. This year's NJ event was bigger and better than ever. The energy in the room was contagious. We want to remind everyone about what Jen Goodman Linn's very simple formula was--if everyone who participated this year brings a friend next year, we can double our numbers."
The event hit home for many families who have been directly affected by cancer including the Beckers.
“Cycle for Survival has become the most meaningful thing that our family has done together,” said Becker. “We were personally affected when our then 12-year-old daughter Sydney was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (a bone cancer in her leg) three years ago. When Syd was just a few weeks into her 10-month chemo, the Goodmans called us up the night before the very first satellite Cycle event in Livingston and encouraged us to come. Sydney was very ill the whole time there, but at the end when they called her into the room and they all cheered for her, it was the first time she really smiled since her diagnosis and we were all hooked.”
“It's my fourth year riding,” said Hubert. “We are proud to be part of team Sydney. She is a true survivor. We are honored to ride on her team. “
“I also ride in memory of my grandma Ann Schwarz,” added Hubert. “She died too young of a rare cancer.”
Michelle Schoenbach (LHS Class of 1986) rode for Team Believe. “This was the second year I rode in Cycle for Survival,” said Schoenbach. “The reason I cycle is because of how wonderful I feel riding and giving time toward such a great cause. Unfortunately, I have known too many people who have not been fortunate enough to survive this awful disease, and therefore I believe cancer must come to an end. I also cycle for my friend Lynda Zarillo, Team Believe’s team captain, who is a cancer survivor.”
To date, Cycle for Survival is the fastest growing athletic charity in the nation. So far, overall, it has raised over $41 million dollars for rare cancer research and developed over 85 new cancer trials/treatments, with $1 million coming from NJ and over $10.7 million having been raised so far in 2014.
“By the end of the day on Feb. 8, NJ achieved its goal of raising $1 million,” said Becker. “The website will still be open for donations until March 31, in part because the NYC Cycle events aren't taking place until early March—so I'm sure we'll be well over $1 million by the time we're all done, with hopefully as much as $1.1 or $1.2 million raised.”
“Nationally, across all the Cycle events, we have raised $10.7 million through tonight,” he added. “It still will go up a couple hundred thousand a day for the next couple months and then will go up even more the last week of February with the NYC events on March 1-2 (there are events in five Equinox gyms in NYC, and each one has two or four different sessions over the weekend), so there is a lot of money still to come in.”
Becker added, “Last year, we raised $14 million nationally, which was up from $8.3 million the year before, and this year, we are hoping to get to the high teens, and I think we'll wind up somewhere close to $17-$18 million by the time we are done.”
Cycle for Survival was started in 2007 by Livingston resident Jennifer Linn and her husband, David, after Jennifer was treated for a rare form of cancer known as sarcoma. The organization was established to provide funding for research for rare forms of cancer (such as sarcoma, pancreatic cancer, and other carcinomas). Memorial Sloan Kettering, along with Equinox Gyms, got on board for an indoor stationary bicycle relay marathon where teams would raise pledge monies.
In 2014, Memorial Sloan-Kettering dedicated a research lab to Jen called ‘The Jennifer Goodman Linn Laboratory for New Drug Development in Sarcoma and Rare Cancers.’
About Rare Cancers
More than half of people diagnosed with cancer have a rare form of the disease. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a "rare cancer" is one with a prevalence of fewer than 200,000 affected individuals in the United States. Research on many rare cancers is drastically underfunded, leaving patients with limited treatment options. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), the nation's preeminent center for cancer research and treatment, is committed to changing that.
About Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC)
MSKCC is the nation's preeminent center for research and treatment devoted exclusively to cancer. Founded in 1884, MSKCC is based in New York City. MSKCC fosters close collaboration between physicians and scientists, leading to treatment innovation and discoveries that benefit the cancer community worldwide. Each year MSKCC treats more than 400 subtypes of cancer.
About Cycle for Survival
Cycle for Survival is the fun, high-energy, indoor team cycling event working to fill the funding gap in rare cancer research. Every dollar raised goes directly to research at MSKCC and findings are shared with every major cancer hub in the country. The direct funding from the events has drastically reduced the time it takes for treatments to reach patients—in some cases cutting the span from years to months. Doctors and researchers who've received Cycle for Survival funding credit these resources for making groundbreaking discoveries possible, advancing vital research where, sometimes, little to no funding exists.
“We love the fact that 100% of the money raised goes to the lab at MSKCC, which is where Syd was treated, within just a few months after Cycle, and that even before this year's events, Cycle money had funded 85 new clinical trials and treatments for a variety of "rare" cancers,' said Becker. “And, ALL pediatric cancers are considered ‘rare.’ So, we are all in for that reason, but we also love it just because it is always one of the most fun and emotional days of the year.”
Tips for Participating in 2015
For those supporters who contributed and participated so graciously this year, Sandy Goodman, mom of Jenn Linn offers tips for how family and friends can help again next year.
“A number of friends and very successful supporters have shared that they are so pleased that they could help make a significant contribution to Cycle for Survival through their fundraising but they are concerned that their network will not respond again next year because they were so generous this year,” said Goodman. “We are thrilled to hear those comments. The simple answer is to say, that cancer does not ever take a break. Cancer does not let up. We can’t either!”
Goodman added, “Commit to recruiting more teams for next year. Speak to your company and see if they will do matching funds for employees. Approach your place of business now, months in advance, and ask if a sponsorship can be considered for the 2015 campaign.”