The Kindness of Friends
I hope this letter finds you well. This spring break, Kaitlin is headed to Costa Rica for an environmental sustainability conference with Jane Goodall and my wife is taking the other two to Pittsburgh where Marissa will have a couple of college visits. Meanwhile I’m saying home for work, the thrill of doing taxes and, now that the snow has melted, some long-overdue cycling around central Ohio.
This past fall I rode Pelotonia and was captain of my company’s cycling team. The ride is fundraising tour for The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
Everyone on my team was successful in raising money and riding the tour. Even the young woman who sprained her ankle the week before the ride. Our company had another interest meeting last week and it looks like there will be fresh faces in 2015 for the team’s second year. And, of course, the return of my not so fresh face. I was quite tuckered at the end of the first day, but it was a “good” tired because I knew my family and friends were there in spirit for me.
Because 180 miles is a long time in the saddle staring at the handlebars, I put a strip of laser-printed paper on my handlebar stem to remind what we were fighting for. I put names of people I knew who had fought cancer valiantly. For some of those names, the battle was too great. As I added names, I had to make the font smaller and smaller, but each still mattered because there is a family and story behind each one.
Like last year, I will be riding the two day, 180 mile route from Columbus to Gambier then Gambier to New Albany the next day in August. In exchange for the opportunity to bonk again at mile 92, I must raise $2200 from caring family and friends again in 2015. I am well aware that the challenge of riding that distance pales in comparison to challenge some people go through when they’ve been given a diagnosis of cancer. And I am gladly volunteering to put myself out there on the asphalt. But if we all donate a little, then someday fewer people will suffer with a diagnosis of cancer. And you don’t have to wear Spandex.
I paid a registration fee and, thankfully, Pelotonia has generous funding partners that cover the cost of the actual event. Because of that, every dollar raised goes directly to cancer research, not administrative costs. 100% of the money raised is tax deductible.
Pelotonia funds dozens of promising research projects at the OSUCCC each year. Here are just a few:
A gene called PTEN is a tumor suppressor that protects people from breast cancer but unfortunately that protein is unstable. Pelotonia funded researchers have discovered several factors that cause that breakdown and now they are trying to determine how to inhibit that breakdown process so the body’s own PTEN gene isn’t lost and can fight cancer.
Anti-microbial peptides, tiny proteins in the immune system, are believed to have anti-cancer properties, researchers funded by Pelotonia are trying to learn if artificial peptides based on the naturally occurring proteins might offer a new myeloma treatment, an incurable form of blood cancer.
Cancer immunotherapy is a major weapon in the war against cancer, but combing anti-CTLA-4 and anti-PD1 antibodies currently leads to severe autoimmune side effects. But Pelotonia researchers are seeing if combining another drug, IL-27, with these and other cancer vaccines can make them more effective while avoiding serious effects.
And there are many, many more projects that other researchers are working on. Some won’t pan out, but those that do will save lives. And you can help. My personal rider profile is at http://pelotonia.org/kenhuffman; there you can make any size donation you are comfortable with. Any donation, large or small, makes a difference and one that I will appreciate.
I thank you sincerely for your support,