A year ago, former Miami Dolphin Mark Duper was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on his kidney. He found out about it after having some complications in last year’s Dolphins Cycling Challenge.
At the time he had no idea how close the cause was to him.
Two years ago, the cycling challenge came about in honor and support of Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich, who had been diagnosed with bile duct cancer. Unfortunately, the legendary broadcaster and former Dolphins tight end died at 62 in April of 2011.
Duper, along with approximately 1,500 participants in the tri-county area, participated in the challenge.
Participants have many reasons for riding, but for Duper and many others it is a story of survival.
Duper had surgery in January of this year and 10 months later he is pedaling for himself and others affected by cancer.
One hundred percent of the funds raised from challenge will go to help fund the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Treatment Center.
“It is important to have a top-notch treatment center like this in the community,” Duper said. “That is why it is important to help raise the money.”
The challenge brought those participating to the cancer center for a tribute to Mandich. For Barbara Woolverton, a breast cancer survivor, riding into the center for the ceremony was an experience close to her heart.
“It was an emotional experience heading into the same place where I received my treatment,” Woolverton said.
Woolverton rode along with over 100 co-workers and teammates from Lennar Homes, which raised more than $300,000, according Woolverton, vice president human resources.
For former Dolphins linebacker Kim Bokamper, the challenge is about remembering those who have lost the fight to cancer and to help raise funds so that others might have a chance.
“It is my third year participating,” Bokamper said. “I, like a lot of people, have been touched by cancer.”
In the inaugural event, $566,000 was raised and participants raised $1.7 million in 2011. The Dolphins Cycling Challenge expects to raise more than $2 million that will go toward the fight for a cure.
Although the Miami 30 portion concluded Saturday at the Miami Beach Marina, the event continues Sunday. Riders will complete the 100- and 170-mile portions that end at Sun Life Stadium and City Place in West Palm Beach.