Dolphins Cancer Challenge VIII

Posted Feb 10, 2018

It was another great day of biking, walking and running, punctuated by a concert at Hard Rock Stadium featuring two well-known bands, but as is always the case, the eighth Dolphins Cancer Challenge was about those who have been affected by the disease.

As guitarist Jeremy Lawton of the band Big Head Todd and the Monsters put it, "It's hard to find someone who doesn't have a cancer story or survivor story or have a six-degree connection to a cancer story. It's easy to find a survivor."

Big Head Todd and the Monsters drummer Brian Nevin himself is a cancer survivor, which made this a special performance for him. And the same goes for lead singer Todd Park Mohr, who lost both of his parents to cancer.

"It's a very emotional issue for all of us because we've all had to face it," Park Mohr said. "It brings out the best of all of us and we're grateful to be here."

The performances by Big Head Todd and the Monsters and the Goo Goo Dolls capped a day of fun and fundraising that featured five different routes for bike riders and a 5K walk/run that began and ended at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Dolphins Cancer Challenge began in 2010 and has raised more than $22 million for cancer research and treatment, with all the funds going to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

It's the signature event for the Miami Dolphins Foundation.

This is just a tremendously important event for cancer research and the Dolphins' involvement makes it really special," said Dr. Edward Abraham, the CEO of UHealth. "We couldn't do it without them. The funds that we raise with this event touch every aspect of cancer care, from the research and discovery efforts to treating patients, helping their families, supporting them and reaching out to our communities. It's really very, very special. It couldn't be duplicated without the help of the Dolphins."

The Dolphins are behind this event in every way possible, including having a group of players show up at Hard Rock Stadium to mingle with DCC participants and survivors.

Among the players who showed up this year were Andre Branch, John Denney, Tony Lippett, Reshad Jones, Raekwon McMillan, Bobby McCain and T.J. McDonald.

In an example of cancer affecting so many people, Branch said Saturday his stepmother is a breast cancer survivor. McCain said cancer has affected his family as well.

"It's a great event," McCain said. "It's a great day for an organization that takes it so serious, that puts their hand in it and takes a part of it and raises money. And it stays here in South Florida. It's great to be a part of that. Cancer touches everyone, everyone and every family. You never know. It's a great event to be at. It's a great cause."

DCC VIII weekend began Friday night with a party at Hard Rock Stadium, and bike riders took off Saturday morning for distances ranging from 14 to 100 miles from five different points in South Florida - the Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University; Esplanade Park in Fort Lauderdale; the Watsco Center in Coral Gables; Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton; and Hard Rock Stadium.

DCC Executive Director Jennifer Jehn said that more than 200 cancer survivors were expected to participate in the event.

The Survivor Program presented by Harcourt M. and Virginia W. Sylvester Foundation shares the stories of #CancerFighters, those on the front line who galvanize the efforts of the DCC. Survivors within the program received a Living Proof arm sleeve and distinguished shirt, and will be able to partake in a number of events year-round, including the Dolphins Crucial Catch campaign, photo series and Survivor Breakfast.

John Rzeznik, the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, said one of his family members is a cancer survivor.

He described the DCC as a day of gratitude.

"I can't talk specifically about who in my family it is because I don't think they would appreciate it, but to sit in the car with her and for two hours driving to the hospital or the treatment center and watching her get better has just been an amazing thing," Rzeznik said. "The treatments have come so far so fast. To know that people now can get cancer and they can get treated and then go on with their lives is pretty amazing. Pretty amazing to see how fast how things are growing.

"The people who are putting this event on are just like the best. Everything is run so well. It's going to be a lot of fun. That's the great thing. You can have so much fun doing something good to help somebody else. I think that's something that people in America now are starting to realize is very, very important. It's nice to make a bunch of cash for yourself or whatever, but we as people, regular people, everyday people, gotta stick together and help each other out.

"It's always an awesome experience to do a show where you're helping other people out. It's just nice that we can be part of something where enough people will pay attention to us that it might actually make a difference in a small way. That's what I'm grateful for about being here today. Today is all about gratitude and community."

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