In less than a month, Columbia University Irving Medical Center will be hosting the Velocity Ride to End Cancer for its third straight year. Last year, the cycling event raised more than $1.2 million to support cutting-edge cancer research and treatments at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC). The hope is that with each year more funds are raised and more riders and volunteers come together with a single, important goal: ending cancer.
One group of motivated cyclists, who have dubbed themselves the Phase ONEders, represent doctors, researchers, nurses, pharmacists, and clinical research specialists, involved in developing the newest, most promising immunological and targeted cancer treatments at Columbia for patients. Some are directly involved in developing or managing phase 1 trials at the HICCC, studies that determine if a new treatment is safe, the crucial first step towards delivering novel therapies to patients.
For patient David Henry, a member of the Phase ONEders, Velocity has a direct impact.
“I saw these Velocity posters all around the medical center,” says David, 64. “I thought, ‘this is for cancer research, which is keeping me alive’. And, I have this background as a cyclist ... This is something I just have to do.”
This will be David’s second year riding the full 62.5-milles route. A former competitive cyclist, having raced in France, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland, David felt compelled to pair that interest—and skillset—with a biking fundraiser whose aim is to support cancer research and improved care at the HICCC. A patient of Dr. Richard Carvajal, director of experimental therapeutics at the HICCC, David, who was diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma five years ago, has had a positive response to date on targeted oral chemotherapy.
David’s teammate Ed Bentlyewski, research nurse practitioner and manager for Columbia’s Clinical Protocol and Data Management office, has been a Velocity rider since its inception three years ago. He finds it gratifying to have a hand in raising funds for the innovative research being done at Columbia, and some of these research projects are being led by investigators he works alongside.
“I have great respect for the work that is being done here at HICCC,” says Ed. “We really are at the forefront of cancer research, and the work we are part of now will help many in the future.”
The Phase ONEders set their fundraising goal at $20,000 and have so far raised $6,600. Members are training on their own and together, and several have committed to the full 62.5-mile ride. Registrants can choose to ride 10, 25, 45, or 62.5 miles, or even participate virtually.
“None of us are looking to be the first over the finish line,” Ed adds. “It’s not a race after all. In the end, it’s really about raising funds, spending time with our team outside of work, and having fun.”
To learn more about Velocity, or to register or volunteer for the event, visit the Velocity page at velocityride.org.
-Melanie A. Farmer