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2nd Annual 'Cycle for Survival' raises money in Miami to fight rare cancers

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Some 300 indoor Miami cyclists pedaled their stationary bikes at Equinox Fitness in Coral Gables as Miami joined 12 other cities across the country participating in "Cycle for Survival," the annual indoor cycling event that raises millions of dollars for cancer research.

Many of those who were on hand had a keen personal interest in the event. They included Jason Sandlofer and his son, Ethan; 12-year-old cancer survivor Luke Weber, and Herb and Barbara Linn, who lost their daughter-in-law, Jennifer Goodman Linn to cancer. Jennifer founded the event in 2007 when she was a patient at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering doctors and staff members had traveled here for the even. They joined with Equinox Fitness staff members who helped to create a festive, pumped up atmosphere. Everyone stressed how unique the event is because 100 percent of every dollar raised goes directly to fund cancer research at the hospital.

"Every researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering realizes that when they get a grant that comes from this event they are getting money that's been raised with sweat. They take it very seriously because they feel the personal connection. Some even get tears in their eyes," said Leonard H. Wexler, M.D., a pediatric oncologist.

Sandlofer had been seeking a cause to get active in after losing his wife, Gabriele, 31, to sarcoma four years ago. "I searched and searched for an activity to get involved with but nothing felt right until this. We are doing this so that hopefully someday other families won't have to go through what we did," Sandholfer said. Ethan was only two years old when his mother died. Now six, he has started a satellite event at his school and has raised $40,000, his father added.

Linn was a member of Equinox Fitness when she was diagnosed with sarcoma. She credited her indoor cycling class with helping her make it through her treatments. She came up with the idea to turn a class into a fundraising event. Equinox partnered with it, fueling it into a major national fundraiser that has thus far raised more than $39 million to fight rare cancers, including sarcoma.

About half of the more than 1.6 million people diagnosed with cancer have one of many rare cancers, which include pancreatic, thyroid, brain, ovarian, all pediatric cancers and many more. So far, Cycle for Survival has helped fund 85 clinical and research studies. The money is needed because it is the four common cancers -- breast, colon, lung and prostate, which get the lion's share of research funds and attention.

Cycle for Survival is now in 13 cities. This is the second year for the event in Miami. "Cycle for Survival 2014" ends March 2.

More info: Cycle for Survival

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