Dear Colleagues, Riders, Crew, and Generous Donors,
This past Saturday, October 11th, Dean Larry Jameson, Emily Whitehead, and her family greeted a crowd of hundreds of riders and their families for the Structure Tone Ride to Conquer Cancer at a very cold and rainy 7am—and off we went. The nearly 150-mile ride was intense, invigorating, cathartic, full of fun and fellowship, and, most of all, provided a tremendous sense of community, comradely, and personal accomplishment. Over 500 riders finished the Ride to benefit Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Fairmount Park with Madlyn Abramson, her daughter Nancy and her two children, Stephanie and Rachel, and many other family and friends of the riders cheering at the finish line. The Ride was phenomenal, and its success was a total team effort.
Thank you very much to all of our volunteers, staff, friends, family, and faculty for participating, helping, and contributing to the Ride. I want to thank our title sponsor, Structure Tone, and sponsor Ben Shein Law Offices. I thank Kevin Mahoney for his guidance and help with the event and Keith Kasper for rocking through the Ride as a participant. In particular, I want to thank all the team members and captains for their dedication. The medical team led by Drs. Linda Jacobs and Alvin Wang was phenomenally helpful for many riders in need of treatment or wound care, including me. The development staff was terrific and special thanks goes to Karrie Borgelt for making it a wonderful event.
The feedback on peoples’ experiences with the Ride has been amazing. We have been successful in not only building our community spirit and engaging a new group of supporters, but also created an "esprit-de-corps," as one department chair who rode told me. Cancer survivors from the Philadelphia area, as well as from as far as Canada shared their appreciation of what we are trying to accomplish. And, Carl June rode with his team that included a colleague from Texas. The Ride has had a more far-reaching impact than we could ever have imagined.
Thank you everyone!! The Abramson Cancer Center team is not only innovating in research and clinical care, but also innovating new ways to engage our patients, their families, our community and new partners through new events such as the Ride. Stay tuned as we plan several new events for next year. Several of you have shared your own experiences of the ride, and we will be posting these in a new series on our Focus on Cancer blog. To share your experience, contact Michal Greenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out photos from the weekend here. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be posting more photos to Facebook; we encourage you to tag your photos with #TheRidePHL and tag Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center.
In closing, I want to share with you my own experience of the Ride below.
Notes and thoughts about my Ride:
I completed the Ride through 150 miles of beautiful Pennsylvania countryside that included some very intense hills. The first day started at 7:30 am with pouring rain—and for a brief moment, sharp pings of sleet beat down on my face. Despite the cold temperatures and pouring rain, over 500 riders came out to support the cause.
I thought of my father and brother Bob, who were both taken away by cancer, as I started and then throughout the Ride. During the first day, I had a near-miss on the road. As my group was cycling up a hill in the pouring rain turning left in single file, a car going too fast from the other side appeared in my left visual field. At that moment I realized that it was out of control, skidding into our side of the road directly toward me. I quickly ditched to the right and onto the roadside ground; her car slid right up over my front bike tire and slightly bent it. A slightly bent tire and only a minor left leg scratch evidenced the near-miss. At the next pit stop about 2 miles ahead, my bike was tuned, my scratch cleaned, I warmed up, and then got back onto the road towards camp. I know it was my Dad and brother Bob who looked out for me.
During the evening of the first day at camp— I shared that I have a personal reason to ride other than leading the Abramson Cancer Center. There were many cancer survivors who also rode, and when I asked all those who have been touched by cancer to stand, every single person in the pavilion stood. I told everyone to look around for a moment and to take this moment in—it was a beautiful reminder of the reason we were all riding. The evening ended with a band and people dancing, celebrating life and fellowship; needless to say there was plenty of food and drinks.
The next day started at camp about 60 miles north of Philadelphia at 37 degrees Fahrenheit, and the sun was rising up to provide the much needed warmth for the rest of the day. After a few significant hills, the sun blessed the beautiful Pennsylvania farmland, which is beginning to show the multitude of colors of the fall and goldening of the crops. The leaves are starting to end their annual journey in beautiful autumn colors, bright red, yellow, and brown. Farmhouses of all kinds with tall corn silos rose out into view. After a lunch pit stop and 25 miles left, the sky was blue and the sun was fully out for the rest of the day. When we came into Philadelphia there were several challenging hills, but the end was in sight. There were people cheering along the ride as well as cheering us into the finish line. Mary, my wife, was there with a big smile, and gave me a much needed hug after being 7 hours on the road. It was moving to see the cancer survivors completing their ride with joy and pride. The families were there to greet them with smiles and tears; we stayed and cheered until the last rider came in at about 5:30 pm. The sun set and the ride was over, but the incredible weekend is a testament to the strength, courage, and dedication felt within our community that will never be forgotten.
Chi V. Dang, MD, PhD
Director, Abramson Cancer Center