Dolphins Cycling Challenge Raises More Than $500,000 for Sylvester

The Miami Dolphins presented Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth-University of Miami Health System, with a check Thursday for an impressive $533,106 – proceeds from the inaugural Dolphins Cycling Challenge. The two-day, 170-mile ride was coordinated by the Miami Dolphins Foundation and took place last November.

Cyclists from across South Florida joined University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala, Miller School of Medicine Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Miami Dolphins CEO Mike Dee, and a host of Dolphins players, alumni, UM leadership, and physicians at the new Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center on the University of Miami campus Thursday night to celebrate the fruits of their labor.

In an emotional “thank-you” on behalf of his father, Mike Mandich, son of Dolphins alumnus and sportscaster Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich, said that his father was fortunate to have many choices for seeking treatment when he was diagnosed with bile duct cancer last year, but he chose Sylvester among all the other top-ranked clinics in the United States. “The care and treatment have been tremendous,” Mandich said. “Sylvester has been my father’s home away from home this past year, but if they can give me just one more day with him, it will mean everything.”

More than 315 riders took part in the tri-county Challenge, which Dean Goldschmidt called one of the most successful first-year fundraising events in Sylvester’s history. Goldschmidt, who rode in the event himself, commented on the importance of the event in the fight against cancer.

“As a National Cancer Institute-funded investigator, I can tell you that getting money for research is crucial toward finding a cure,” Goldschmidt said. “The success of this event is symbolic of the successes we’re experiencing at Sylvester.”

Sylvester Chief Medical Officer W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., who also rode in the Challenge, noted his sense of pride knowing that the course he was traveling — through Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties — included the same areas served by the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Some 45 percent of Sylvester patients are from Broward and Palm Beach counties, Goodwin said.

Because cancer deeply affects so many lives, the Dolphins Cycling Challenge was created to inspire South Floridians to work together to “tackle cancer one mile at a time.” One-hundred percent of the funds raised from the November ride were presented to Dean Goldschmidt, President Shalala, and Dr. Goodwin, who accepted the check on behalf of “Team Sylvester” — Sylvester Interim Director Joseph Rosenblatt, M.D.; UM CFO and Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Joe Natoli; Dean Goldschmidt; and Dr. Goodwin — and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center to further research and treatment for patients across South Florida and beyond.

“The excitement here tonight is palpable as we get ready to put this money to good use fighting cancer,” said President Shalala.

Representatives from both UM and the Dolphins agree that the event would not have been such a tremendous success without the enthusiastic participation and support of people throughout South Florida.

“This year’s fundraising total is an extraordinary achievement shared by the hundreds of riders and thousands of donors who came together to make this inaugural ride such a success,” said Miami Dolphins CEO Mike Dee. “With the momentum, we are confident that the Dolphins Cycling Challenge will raise millions of dollars to end this miserable disease and positively impact thousands of Sylvester patients and their families.”

Dee, who had the original idea for the Challenge, was inspired by the loss of a close friend to cancer in 2003 and his new-found love of cycling. “I might have been the spark for this event, but it was a labor of love for everyone involved. It was a cumulative effort of all those who participated and supported our efforts,” Dee said.

Miami Dolphins Vice Chairman and UM Trustee Jorge Perez echoed Dee’s gratitude to the South Florida community: “On behalf of Dolphins Board Chairman Steve Ross and all the Dolphins partners, we are grateful for the amazing support this charity event received from our fans and the community at large,” Perez said. “We are proud that our partnership with the University of Miami has reached a new level, and we look forward to making a significant contribution towards the fight against cancer.”

Given the success of this first Dolphins Cycling Challenge, Dee announced a $1.5 million fundraising goal for the 2011 Challenge — with all proceeds going directly to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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