Jai Anderson is riding for her daughter’s life.
The girl, Allistaire, now 3, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at 21 months old. She could have died if it weren’t for a recent stem-cell transplant she received as part of a clinical trial at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
"For me, the fact that Obliteride is a bike ride is almost inconsequential. I figure, let it hurt, let it be the tiniest taste of the pain my child has endured — let me face the pain, let me look it in the eye and ride through it, and allow any soreness of muscle or fatigue be a reminder of the hurt that has ravaged my child and face it, ride into it and through it and conquer it," Anderson said.
Obliteride is not your average bike-a-thon, its organizers say. The goal for the inaugural year is to net $2.5 million and engage 2,500 riders and 1,000 volunteers. All participants will enjoy high-quality meals, amenities, rest stops every 10-15 miles, and festivities that include local bands, food and microbrew.
The event has inspired donations, and activists, large and small: Saanya Piplani took on fundraising as a school project, and Malia Grantor, a 7-year-old, raised money by asking for donations in lieu of birthday presents. More amazing stories of riders and donors can be found here.
“Cancer affects all of us and we want the entire community to feel welcome to come on out to Magnuson Park and cheer on all the riders who have raised money for cancer research at Fred Hutch,” said Amy Lavin, Obliteride’s executive director.
"Obliteride is so much more than a phenomenal bike ride. It's a movement of people committed to obliterating cancer and saving lives faster. Our goal is to ensure the event is fully underwritten so 100 percent of every dollar raised goes directly to lifesaving cancer research right here in Seattle."
Anderson, 38 and mom to both Allistaire and the girl's older sister, is participating in Obliteride by riding 25 miles. Her original fundraising goal of $1000 was reached within five hours, and so she decided to try for $5000. To date, she has raised over $10,000 as a result of the generosity of many people.
According to a summary of her family's story on the Obliteride blog, Allistaire, who has been treated at Seattle Children's, received donor stem cells from a woman in Europe, cells used in the critical treatment she then received at the Hutch. Anderson wrote about the moment the family received that bag of liquid on her blog.
"Allistaire is literally alive today because of cancer research," said Anderson, who has done little formal training for the ride. "This bike ride is an opportunity to give thanks and the chance to give back a tiny fraction of what has been bountifully given to us."
Currently, Allistaire is doing well and is recovering at home from the recent surgery.
How you can help:
- Come and line the routes and cheer the riders. Bring signs honoring loved ones or friends who have battled cancer or are in the fight today.
- Sign up to be a virtual rider. You have until October 1, 2013 to raise money for this year’s Obliteride.
- Save the date for Obliteride 2014, which is August 9, and plan to ride, volunteer or raise money.
- Tell all of your friends about Obliteride and the importance of supporting cancer research right here in our community.
- Volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House or make a donation.
- Donate to the Seattle Children's Hospital Foundation, which provides financial assistance to families who cannot afford the cost of treatment.
- Donate to the Ben Towne Foundation, which uses 100% of donations to fund pediatric cancer research.
Elizabeth Ralston is a writer with a public health background. She writes about topics on philanthropy, including profiles of inspiring people and organizations on her blog, The Inspired Philanthropist . When she is not writing, she enjoys spending time in the great outdoors with her family. You can follow her on Twitter.