For Dr. Samuels and so many others at Sylvester, the DCC doesn’t only have significance on a professional level but on a personal level as well.
All participants — whether they be bike riders, runners, walkers, volunteers, fundraisers, donors or sponsors — understand the signifcance and benefits of the Dolphins Cancer Challenge.
Doctors, researchers and officials at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, which receives all the money raised from the event, just might have an even deeper appreciation for the important of the DCC, though.
“It’s meant a lot of things to a lot of people,” said Dr. Michael Samuels, clinical research services medical director at Sylvester. “First of all, it’s been a very successful fundraising project for us in cooperation with the Dolphins. We raised $4.3 million last year. We’re going to go for $6 million this year. That makes a huge difference to our ability to support both laboratory and clinical research at the Cancer Center at Sylvester. Those dollars go to funding our laboratories and funding our clinical trials.
“I personally have been the recipient of two grants. My research team and I have been the recipients of two grants that came from DCC funding. For my lab, it means everything that we have this project, we have this cooperation together to do the DCC.”
For Samuels and so many others at Sylvester, the DCC doesn’t only have significance on a professional level but on a personal level as well.
“There are very few oncologists at Sylvester or people associated with Sylvester in any way who don’t have cancer as a real part of their life,” Samuels said. “That’s just part of our world now. We’re all not only riding because it’s important for the Cancer Center, but we’re riding because it’s important to us personally.
“My mother has been treated for breast cancer twice and thankfully is doing very well. Unfortunately, I lost one of my aunts, with whom I was very close, this year. (She) was a young woman, a non-smoker and got a very aggressive lung cancer and unfortunately died from it just a few months later. It was really very shocking and very upsetting to our entire family. We have felt cancer as a family as much as anybody and even quite recently.”
Samuels doesn’t just professionally reap the benefits of the DCC, he will be among those taking part in the 100-mile bike ride Saturday that will begin at the Dolphins’ stadium at 6:30 a.m.
“This is my fifth DCC,” he said. “I didn’t work at Sylvester for the very first one. I came in just after that. I’ve done every DCC since. I rode 100 miles the first year and then 180 for all the others. So this year because the longest ride is 100, that’s what I’m going to be doing.”
All told, more than 3,200 participants are expected Saturday for the sixth edition of the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, previously known as the Dolphins Cycling Challenge.
DCC VI will feature several different bike rides at different starting times and locations: 100 miles from the Dolphins’ stadium at 6:30 a.m.; 72 miles from CityPlace in West Palm Beach at 6:30 a.m.; 46 miles starting in Mizner Park in Boca Raton at 8 a.m.; 35 miles starting at the BankUnited Center at 9 a.m.; 26 miles from Esplanade Park in Fort Lauderdale at 11 a.m.; and 13 miles from the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University at noon.
The 5K Run/Walk, back for a second year, will start at the Dolphins’ stadium at 11 a.m., and the DCC VI festivities will be capped by a Concert Celebration featuring Grammy Award winners and cancer survivors Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge.
A kickoff party for participants will take place Friday at the Dolphins’ stadium from 5-8 p.m. Dolphins President/CEO Tom Garfinkel, Special Advisor to the President/CEO Dan Marino and alumni and players are among those expected to be on hand for the kickoff party.
The Dolphins Cancer Challenge (DCC) was founded in 2010 by the Miami Dolphins organization as the signature initiative of the Foundation’s health pillar.
In part inspired by Dolphins alumnus and long-time radio voice Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich’s courageous battle with cancer, the DCC’s mission is to improve people’s lives through financial support for innovative cancer research at South Florida’s only academic-based cancer center — Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami.
Since its inception, the DCC has raised more than $11.55 million, donating 100 percent of participant-raised funds to Sylvester. More than $3 million already has been raised this year.
For additional information, call (305) 943-6799 or visit www. DolphinsCancerChallenge.com. DCC can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/RideDCC and on Twitter at @TackleCancer.