SUMMIT, NJ – One of Jennifer Goodman Linn’s favorite quotes was from Abraham Lincoln: “It is not the years in your life, but the life in your years.” Although the years in Jennifer’s life were cut short by cancer, she left behind a legacy that will help add years to other lives.
Jennifer died in 2011 of sarcoma, a soft tissue cancer, at the age of 40. While she was being treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Jen and Dave had been surprised and dismayed to learn that such research is often underfunded and patients have limited treatment options.
So Jen, with what her family and friends say was typical Jen-like fearlessness and creativity, started Cycle for Survival, an indoor cycling event – popularly known as spinning – that raises funds for rare cancer research. They held their first event at Equinox in New York City with a few friends, hoping to raise $10,000 for rare cancer research.
Since then, they’ve cycled past $10,000 many times over. Since its inception in 2007, Cycle for Survival has raised more than $24.5 million dollars for rare cancer research and funded 53 clinical trials and research studies. The event’s direct funding has drastically reduced the time it takes for treatments to reach patients — in some cases cutting the span from years to months.
Cycle for Survival has grown from a local event into a national movement against rare cancers. It now attracts more than 13,000 participants and takes place in 10 locations nationwide in February and March. It has been featured by the TODAY Show, the Wall Street Journal, the Rachael Ray Show, and the Chicago Tribune.
Ian Woodcock, owner of Classic Construction in Summit, was a friend of Jen and Dave, and participated in Cycle for Survival in New York during previous years. This year's event will include Feb. 9 at Equinox in Summit, and Classic Construction will have a team involved.
“It’s a fight to raise funds for rare cancer,” Woodcock said. “You can’t go wrong.”
Cycle for Survival has grown at a remarkable rate since its early days, a fact that Sloan-Kettering representatives say helps them take, and continue to take, giant steps forward in researching rare cancers such as stomach, brain, pancreatic, cervical, sarcoma, and pediatric cancers.
Within six months of each Cycle for Survival event, every dollar raised is allocated to an MSKCC research initiative devoted to discovering new and more effective treatments for rare cancers. Since 2007, Cycle for Survival has raised more than $23.5 million to fund more than 53 clinical trials and research studies. In 2012 alone, Cycle for Survival raised more than $8.3 million and funded 28 research initiatives.
Jen’s parents, Len and Sandy Goodman of Livingston, are still involved in every event, as they join with others to remember the daughter they describe as “spirited, creative, fun, tolerant of all people, caring, sincere, feisty, bright, articulate, a real people person, dynamic, strong, determined, loyal, a risk taker, proactive, fearless, resourceful, intellectually curious, beautiful…and so much more.”
Cycle became an official Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center event in 2009, and has joined forces with Equinox, which now hosts all the events. The Summit event on Feb. 9 will be at the Equinox on River Road and will go from 8 a.m. until noon, then from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Woodcock said he’ll be there, cycling like mad in memory of his friend.
“At the end of the day, it’s about remembering a friend of mine, and about ridding the world of cancer,” he said.
For more information on Cycle for Survival, including how to donate or join the effort, visit www.cycleforsurvival.com.