As spring is finally approaching, students and community members will get outside on May 9 and raise money to combat brain tumors. The 2009 Hope Starts Here Cycling Challenge is a bike ride and walk throughout Marquette to raise money for the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center (UMBTC) to conduct research and provide treatment.
“The goal of the cycling challenge is to raise community awareness, instill the spirit of service and volunteerism and raise funds for the UMBTC,” said Richard Rovin, a neurosurgeon at Marquette General Hospital.
The tumor center is part of MGH and includes NMU students in brain tumor research. Part of the funds raised will go to support the research team, which includes 20 graduate and undergraduate students. The research focuses on extending the time a patient can live with the condition.
“The prognosis for those with brain tumors is poor,” said Robert Winn, head of the biology department at NMU.
“It is not any better now than it was over 20 year ago. With other types of cancer much research has gone into it and there have been developments in extending the lives of patients,” he added.
Last year, over $20,000 was raised with 200 riders participating. The cycling challenge is divided into three events. A long ride, which is approximately 40 miles, is geared toward more experienced bikers and will go to Sawyer International Airport and back. For those less experienced, a short ride to Presque Isle and back is about five miles. The third event, aimed towards families and children, is a walk through the campus of NMU. All participants will begin their events at Marquette General.
The rides and the walk are noncompetitive, but participants are encouraged to obtain pledges beforehand to raise money. The individual and team who raise the most money through pledges will be named the Karry award winners.
“The Karry award is named for John Karry-one of our patients who completed the long ride on a cold and drizzly day then two days later was in the operating room undergoing surgery for a recurrent brain tumor,” Rovin said. “His courage and faith motivate us each day.”
Dan LeBert, an NMU biology graduate student, volunteered at the event last year and plans to volunteer again this year. He is currently working on studying tumor cells and the spread of tumors from one area to another with the financial support of the UMBTC.
“It is a great cause – supporting the UMBTC and their research. There has been a good turnout in the past. People tend to really enjoy themselves,” LeBert said.
There is a $25 registration fee for the ride or walk ($30 on-site registration). The fee covers lunch and a T-shirt for participants; extra money goes to the UMBTC.
“The ride is a great way to show your support for your friends and neighbors that are battling brain cancer, (and it’s) a great way for cyclists to get a few miles in their legs. It really is a unique and uplifting event,” said Rovin.
For a registration form and ride times, visit www.hopestartshere.org.