Powerful Stories Behind Why Riders Take Part
Submitted By: Josh Milton
Cancer survivor, friend lost to cancer, cancer researcher. These are just some of the people involved with the annual Pan-Florida Challenge Cancer Ride (PFC) taking place in Naples and Tampa on March 25-26. PFC funds ground-breaking research studying the linkages between hunger and cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center. PFC also provides nutritious meals to underprivileged and hungry children to prevent cancer later in life. Whether you’re looking to celebrate survival, honor a loved one, or simply want to support a worthy cause, the PFC Cancer Ride means something different to everyone.
“I’m a firsthand example of why these funds work, specifically for critical cancer research,” said Janelle Morales, Administrative Support Staff Supervisor at Moffit Cancer Center. She joined the PFC Cancer Ride for the first-time last year to commemorate her personal journey as a cancer survivor, which she attributes in part to drug research being done at Moffitt, and to honor the memory of her aunt who passed away from the disease.
Dr. Nagi Kumar, Senior Member of Cancer Epidemiology at Moffitt, and teams of researchers so far have identified six specific agents derived from phytochemicals that they are using to develop cancer-fighting drugs for patients, like Morales, in pre-cancerous and early stages of cancer.
“This is an area that is high risk, but also high reward. This work doesn’t get funded immediately by the government and other agencies until we have definitive proof, and almost all of them are now,” said Dr. Kumar. “But, in the beginning, organizations like Pan-Florida Challenge helped with seed money for the preliminary work testing compounds derived from plants.”
David McAllister, his wife, brother, and sister-in-law are self-proclaimed serial fundraisers and passionate cyclists from Jacksonville who also joined the PFC Cancer Ride last year. “The PFC Cancer Ride combined some of our favorite things like cycling in a warm place, fundraising for cancer prevention, and nutrition, which we’re all involved in healthy lifestyles and believe is an important component of cancer prevention.” The team, known as Angelina’s Song, rides in support of dear friends who lost their daughter to cancer in 2015 and started a charity related to music therapy for pediatric cancer patients.
The McAllister’s have become friends with fellow riders and say the event is a “tremendous amount of fun.” They plan to do their 2023 PFC ride in Tampa. “We’re looking forward to it. It gives everybody an opportunity to get involved in a charity that is both worthwhile and mission oriented. We try to come up with unique ways to meet the fundraising minimum, and this year we went to one of my friends who owns Subaru of Jacksonville. They sponsored us, covered our expenses, and they promoted it within their social network. We magnified our efforts by finding a sponsor,” said McAllister.
Master Sergeant James Douglas is retired after 26 years in the Army and is now a JROTC instructor at a local high school. “I like supporting different organizations but coincidentally one of my coworkers had cancer and actually died about three weeks before the ride last year. It gave me even more reason to support the mission,” said Douglas. “I also have a friend whose wife just passed away from cancer a couple of weeks ago and I have a family member who now has cancer. So, this is something I can see always doing from here on out to try and help make a difference.”
Douglas rode by himself last year but says he quickly made new friends. “The meet and greet before the ride was amazing. Overall, it was just an amazing ride. I believe everyone should get involved with PFC because with every organization, the financial side will always be there. Social media, that’s the thing of today and that’s probably one of the best ways to actually get out there to help with fundraising. Unfortunately, cancer is not going away and there’s no definite cure, so the more awareness the better so that we can bring a cure to this disease and help prevent untimely deaths.”
“I am so amazed,” said Dr. Kumar. “These riders are just as dedicated as we are, training and giving of themselves physically to this cause. I am blown away by their commitment and I feel like they’re definitely a part of our team,” said Dr. Kumar.
“We all have been affected by cancer or will be in some way and you can help make a difference,” said Jeri Goetz, Executive Director of the Pan Florida Challenge Cancer Ride. “It’s a great ride to participate in as an individual or if you get friends together and join a team. It’s a ride and not a race, so March 25 – 26, cyclists of all ages and abilities are welcome to join in and choose from multiple routes in Tampa and Naples.”
To learn more about start times, registration fees, and fundraising minimums please visit panfloridachallenge.org.
The Pan-Florida Challenge wouldn’t be possible without the support of generous sponsors. If your business is interested in sponsoring the 2023 ride, please visit panfloridachallenge.org/sponsors for more information.
ABOUT PAN-FLORIDA CHALLENGE
Pan-Florida Challenge (PFC) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to engage the community in cancer prevention research and education and distribute cancer fighting food to undernourished children throughout Florida. Founded in 2014, PFC partners with elementary schools throughout the state to distribute weekend backpack meals, also known as PFC Power Packs and Family Weekend Backpack Meals. These meals contain nutritious food items that meet or exceed the USDA’s dietary recommendation for elementary school aged children. To date, PFC has provided more than 8 million meals to hungry children – all with the help of annual fundraising events, grants, sponsorships, and benefactors. For more information, please visit panfloridachallenge.org.