Dolphins Cycling Challenge Benefits Research at Sylvester

Joined by Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., and UM Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Joe Natoli, more than 315 cyclists took part in this past weekend’s inaugural, tri-county Dolphins Cycling Challenge, raising more than $400,000 for cancer research and treatment at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The success of the two-day challenge, which culminated Sunday at Sun Life Stadium, set the stage for a signature annual event designed to support Sylvester for years to come – until cancer is vanquished.

“The weekend was great and it is a tribute to riders, volunteers and donors,” said Dolphins CEO Mike Dee, who with UM President Donna E. Shalala announced the challenge in September. “Our organization was committed to this and it couldn’t have gone better. This is a significant first step and we will begin planning for next year immediately in hopes of making this event bigger and better to raise additional funds for cancer research and continue to make an impact in our community.”

Heading into the weekend, W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., chief medical officer at Sylvester and University of Miami Hospital and Clinics, said he didn’t know what to expect, but came away from the experience “glowing about the beauty of South Florida, and the growing number of residents who support Sylvester.’’

“Dolphins CEO Mike Dee and the entire Dolphins organization were just amazing!’’ Goodwin said. “I am also inspired by the generosity of our faculty, staff and long time supporters, so many of whom gave of their time and resources. This event will become one of the major sources of strength for Sylvester in the years ahead. South Florida cancer patients will be the real winners!”

Joseph Rosenblatt, M.D., interim director of Sylvester and professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology, echoed his sentiments.

“As it is for many of our patients, the ride was a challenge,’’ Rosenblatt said. “But helping cancer patients overcome their illness and lead healthy, normal lives is the real challenge. I thank the Miami Dolphins for their generosity and dedication to the cause of eradicating cancer, and promise that we at Sylvester will do our best to use the funds raised to develop new and improved approaches to diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer, and to provide the finest of care to patients in South Florida and the region.”

A number of South Florida cancer survivors who benefited from that care joined the challenge, including Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich, the radio voice of the Dolphins who is undergoing treatment at Sylvester for bile duct cancer. A former Dolphins tight end and member of the undefeated 1972 team, Mandich was the inspiration for the challenge, and Dolphins executives and alumni rode as “Team Mad Dog” in his honor.

“When Mike Dee proposed this event, I didn’t know what to expect,” Mandich said. “I was unfamiliar with cycling and what the potential for an event like this was. To see the way it was supported, to see the way the plan was executed and to see the generous check given to the Sylvester Cancer Center made all of the effort really worthwhile. Cancer touches our friends and all of our families. It is important for when it does to have a world-class cancer facility in your hometown. That’s what these funds are dedicated to and at the end of the day great resources will be raised to find a cure for cancer.”

The ride offered multiple routes for riders of all ages and experiences. It began Saturday with a 100-mile “Century Ride” from Sun Life Stadium to downtown Miami, then north along A1A to CityPlace in downtown West Palm Beach. Two more legs were held Sunday: a 30-mile ride from downtown Fort Lauderdale to the stadium and a 70-mile ride from CityPlace in West Palm Beach to the stadium. Younger cyclists also had a chance to participate in the “Kids’ Ride,” which included multiple courses for different age groups set up at the stadium.

Riders who completed the challenge rode through the same tunnel that players run through on game days, and were welcomed by Dean Goldschmidt, President Shalala and a host of Dolphins and Hurricanes alumni and community leaders.

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