The Dolphins’ annual cancer challenge: It’s not just for cyclists anymore.
Major changes are coming to the annual fundraiser in 2016, starting with the name.
The event, which has raised more than $11 million for the UM Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, will now be known as the Dolphins Cancer Challenge.
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In addition to the now-famous bike ride — which had 2,800 participants last year — the event will also include a 5K run/walk and a mini music festival in the Sun Life Stadium parking lot, featuring multiple Grammy Award-winning performers.
“You don’t have to have cancer to fight cancer,” said Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel. “We want everyone to take on this notion that they’re cancer fighters.”
The DCC, now in its sixth year, has become the Miami Dolphins Foundation’s signature health initiative. All of the money raised goes directly to Sylvester to fight cancer, including $4.7 million last year alone.
Formerly a two-day event, it has been condensed to one in 2016, and is scheduled for Feb. 20.
There will also be two new Fall Family Fests — Nov. 8 at Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park and Nov. 15 at the University of Miami — with a kids bike ride in a safe, car-free location. The hope with these earlier events is to inspire more people to either donate or participate.
As for the concert, whose performers will be announced at a later date, tickets will be made available to the public, but participants in the ride or the road race will enjoy VIP access.
“We’re extraordinarily excited about this,” said Stephen Nimer, director of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Every year, we raise more money. Every dollar goes for cancer research. The advances that have been made in cancer research, both worldwide and at Sylvester, are astonishing.”
Sylvester is the only university-based cancer center in South Florida. The funding from DCC is essential to the center’s goal to become a National Cancer Institute-Designated facility, which is the gold standard in its field.
NCI-Designated centers “form the backbone of NCI’s programs for studying and controlling cancer,” according to the institute’s website. Sylvester hopes to earn that accreditation by the end of 2017.
“The DCC is critically important to us,” Nimer said. “It’s lifesaving. Tom has been an amazing leader in this.”