OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer Ride passed through Kansas City, Missouri, Thursday morning. Employees of the pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb ride bicycles in a relay from Oregon to New Jersey every year as a fundraiser for The V Foundation which funds cancer research.
Christy Williams, a colon cancer survivor herself, admitted the ride is grueling, but her own experience gives her motivation to continue riding.
“It’s hard, you want to stop. But at any moment someone is hearing the words ‘you have cancer’ or someone is passing away from cancer. That really is what drives us to keep peddling and make it through,” Williams explained, crediting her survival to research that is possible thanks to fundraisers like this one.
Since its inception, the ride has raised more than $7 million. This year alone, cyclists have collected $1.5 million.
The V Foundation, named after college basketball coach Jim Valvano, grants money to organizations like the University of Kansas Cancer Center, which is working on breakthrough therapies to teach immune systems to fight cancer.
“It’s really revolutionized the treatment of lung cancer, for melanoma and for blood cancers,” said Dr. Roy Jensen of the KU Cancer Center. “We’re just beginning to understand how we can utilize it against a whole range of other solid tumors.”
Before riders took off Thursday, Chiefs cheerleaders and mascot KC Wolf helped rally their spirits at an event outside Arrowhead Stadium.
Anyone wishing to donate to the cause can contribute by visiting the fundraiser’s website.