Yesterday marked my second time riding in a spin “marathon” event called Cycle for Survival and my first hosting a team (shamelessly self promoting this blog)! It. was. awesome!
To step back a bit, I will tell you about about Cycle for Survival and why I participate and encourage others to, as well. I remember reading an article about Jennifer Goodman Linn in 2008 or 2009 when the ride was being promoted. She was a lot like me. She was a woman in her 30s living in NYC, married and making her way in the business world. In 2004, at age 33, she was diagnosed with a rare cancer, called sarcoma. She was given a 50/50 chance of survival. She was encouraged and lifted up by her friends and especially people the she worked out with. I could relate to that!
Jennifer Linn founded Cycle for Survival in 2007 with Equinox gym in New York City. It was a grass-roots program inspired by her love for cycling and the encouragement she found among her gym buddies. Today, thousands of cyclists team up each year with friends, family and coworkers to ride against cancer. And the event has grown from 1 location and $250,000 raised to:
In 2012, $8.3M was raised and today, David Linn announced that so far in 2013, $8.4M was raised and there are still 6 weeks to go!
So why do I participate? Everyone is touched by cancer and “rare cancers” are not so rare (50% of all diagnosed cancers are considered rare; Rare cancers include brain, pancreatic, cervical, sarcoma, stomach, pediatric cancers and many others), so I believe in this cause. 100% goes to Memorial Sloan Kettering and Cycle for Survival has directly funded 53 clinical trials and research studies. That is reason enough. The true reason I ride and raise money for this event is to honor the spirit and fearlessness of Jennifer Linn. Her company was called “You Fearless.” She was dealt a bad hand and she took every measure to win. People always tell me that I would do that same in her situation. I hope that I never have to find out, but I am not sure how true it is. I hope so, too. Jennifer Linn lost her battle to cancer in July of 2011. She was 40 year old. Her legacy lives on with these amazing events and all of the lives she touched. Read this post by her husband, David Linn, from the Huffington Post recently and watch her video. (Warning: have a Kleenex handy!)
So on the the 2013 Chicago Ride… Like last year, it was held at Equinox in the Loop. It seemed to have grown in size and enthusiasm which did not seem possible! There were over 100 bikes and teams of 1 – 8 people per bike for the four hour spin class. My “Erica Finds” team had 8 riders on 2 bikes and we raised almost $6,000!! My friends were on “Braking Bad” and had 3 bikes with 12 riders and raised over $6,600. We took one hour shifts.
A few pictures to set the scene:
The event is totally top of the line. They had free massages, cheerleaders, snacks, photographers, a kids’ zone, full use of the remainder of the gym and more. The only tough thing was that when you have 100+ people spinning non stop for hours, it gets HOT! Molly coined it “bikram spin.” I will show you some evidence of that shortly.
I took the last shift with Deb. Our class was led by Equinox group fitness managers, Jenn Hogg and Julie Valenti (BOTH AMAZING!). These ladies had us do a really tough, drenching workout. It was invigorating and I tried to remember the advice I saw recently that said if you are in pain while working out that smiling helps!
There were two awesome things that I wanted to share from my ride:
- Jenn Hogg’s workout was pretty tough. When she suggested that we do some 45 second hill sprints, she said “we don’t do it because we want to, we do it because we CAN.” Immediately, I was reminded to be grateful for my health and strength and the fact that I can push myself. (Thank you, Jenn, for the tough love!)
- Deb, Maureen and I noticed that a beautiful, fit woman near us had the word survivor written on her arm. This was in the first 10 minutes of the ride. She looked so fit and alive and she was kicking our butts! Jenn asked if we had any survivors among us and the woman raised her hand. Jenn played Survivor by Destiny’s Child and had us all cheer as we watched this woman “climb” a hill. This pretty much brought down the house and propelled us to work harder. Don’t believe me? check out this photo of the aftermath:
After the ride was over, Dave Linn announced that the ride is currently at $8.4M and then showed a great video that showed Jennifer Linn dancing to celebrate her 40th birthday along with many other people from around the country dancing. The woman who was a survivor got off of her bike and started dancing joyfully. I decided to ask her for a photo for my blog entry and asked her name.
Her name is Jorie Gillis. She told me to check out her project called The Arts of Courage Project. Of course, I did! The Arts of Courage Project will produce an evening art event held in Chicago (3/2/2013 – tickets are only $20 if you buy in advance!). The event will showcase the artists’ donated works of art and auction them. Their goal is to donate 100% of the proceeds to a charitable organization affiliated with survivor assistance. (Check out the event flyer here.) Just like Jennifer Linn, Jorie Gillis is living fearlessly and giving back! I was so excited that I was a total dork and asked for her photo and learned more about her and her project. Bravo and thank you, Jorie, for making an awesome day even better!
All in all, it was a super fun, energy filled, amazing event. I am so fortunate to have such great support and friends who join in all of the fun(draising)! Thank you to all who donated to support my team in this event! I encourage anyone who lives in one of the ride cities to check it out for next year!