By Guest Writer - March 21, 2022
The Pan-Florida Challenge Cancer Bike Ride will be back in gear March 26-27, bringing together dedicated cyclists of all levels on a mission to fight cancer. The annual cycling challenge raises funds for cancer prevention research, cancer patient support and food for hungry children. This year, Pan-Florida Challenge partnered with Moffitt Cancer Center to fund the Cancer Chemoprevention Research Interest Group. According to Dr. Nagi Kumar, director of Cancer Chemoprevention at Moffitt, studies have shown the relationship between food, cancer prevention, the risk of developing cancer, and its impact on treatment and survival.
“We know that about half of cancers can be prevented by eating better, exercising every day, not smoking and going in for screenings so you can catch these cancers early on,” said Kumar. “Based on our research, we recommend a diet rich in plant foods. The more colors [of foods] that you have on your plate, the better because they all carry chemicals that can potentially help prevent many types of cancers.”
The nonprofit originally set out as a hunger relief effort. In 2014, a group of cyclists rode across the state for a fundraiser to provide 134,000 meals for children in Haiti. The ride gave one of the cyclists, Pan-Florida Challenge founder Ed Mullen, the inspiration for his own organization. Through the years, the Pan-Florida Challenge began looking beyond feeding hungry children to addressing health consequences of malnutrition, including cancer.
Pan-Florida Challenge is able to help fund research, cancer patient support, and its work with elementary schools and after school programs to provide weekly meals to students through two big events, including the ride.
This is the charity ride’s eighth year, and event routes include 30, 62, 100 and 200 miles (a two-day ride with a hotel stay after 100 miles) starting in Fort Myers. The Tampa event offers the same distance rides but also includes a 10-miler. All riders must meet a minimum fundraising goal to participate, except for the 10-mile riders in Tampa.
“Our partnership with Pan-Florida Challenge is very special. With 100% of the funds that riders raise going directly to the mission, our collaboration will undoubtedly have a positive impact on cancer risk factors and outcomes for future generations. I applaud Ed Mullen for his foresight and support,” said Maria Muller, president of the Moffitt Foundation.
For participants, it’s more than just a ride or a physical challenge. There’s a sense of purpose and being part of something bigger than yourself. The Pan-Florida Challenge is a ride for a cause, not a timed race.
“There’s so much comradery associated with this event. Year after year, people return, participation increases, as well as our ability to influence a future without cancer,” said Pan-Florida Challenge Executive Director Jeri Goetz.
Registration is still open for all distances, and riders can join a team or form their own.
Moffitt will provide free head and neck screenings on Sunday, March 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. along the course at USF Riverfront Park, the starting point of the Tampa rides. Fees, fundraising minimums and start times vary by route. Virtual registration is also welcome in the Pan-Florida Challenge.
For more information or to register for the event, visit panfloridachallenge.org.