Cyclists set to raise money for cancer research

January 12, 2012 7:11:52 PM PST
Next month, hundreds of Bay Area riders will hop on stationary bikes, not just for excercise, but to raise money for cancer research. The cancers are all categorized as rare, but put together, they affect tens of thousands of people, including children.

Courtney Caccia is warming up for a ride that is still weeks away, but motivation is not a problem.

"I was diagnosed with a rare cancer when I was 25. At the time, there was no Cycle For Survival to help," she told ABC7.

The event she is training for is called "Cycle For Survival." It was started by her college roommate Jennifer Goodman-Linn, who coincidentally also developed a rare form of cancer. While Courtney survived her disease, Jennifer did not.

"Jennifer passed away in July 2011, so this'll be the first year we do 'Cycle' without her," Courtney said.

Five years ago, the women formed the indoor fundraising ride that has now staged in major cities across the country. The Equinox Health Club in San Francisco is hosting the Bay Area event.

"And we will have 100 cycles, so our fitness club will become like a big cycle studio," Jayme Boyle at Equinox explained.

Buddy Macuha leads the 4-hour ride.

"So, there's things that we do such as climbing hills, sprints, standing on the bike, and it's really fun. It's great," he said.

Teams recruit sponsors and so far, the event has raised more than $9 million for clinical trials into what are known as rare cancers. UCSF researcher Dr. Theirry Jahan says funding for those cancers is typically a fraction of what is spent on better-known diseases.

"The efforts that are being deployed on behalf of breast cancer dwarf everything else. Same with prostate cancer," Jahan said.

Organizers say they are still recruiting teams and riders. Tracy Watt joined Courtney's team, in part, because of her family's history with rare cancer.

"It's astounding to me, that there are classes of rare cancer, because they're many of the ones that we know. Pancreatic cancer hit two people in our family," she said.

Tracy and Courtney are hoping the event continues to grow.

"There's no limit. It could be something that happens in every major city," Courtney said.

The ride takes place on Saturday, February 4. Click here for more information.