Former Dolphins wide receiver Nat Moore has already lost two teammates to cancer, linebacker Bob Matheson in 1994 and tight end Jim Mandich in 2011.
Cancer causes about 8.2 million deaths per year worldwide, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
That’s a staggering 22,000 cancer deaths per year.
In United States alone, there are expected to be more than 1.6 million new cancer patients this year. Also, more than 500,000 Americans are expected to die from the disease this year.
“It’s all around us,” Moore said. “[Former Dolphins kicker] Garo [Yepremian] has cancer now. [Former Dolphins receiver] Mark Duper had to have a kidney removed due to cancer. [Former Dolphins receiver] O.J. McDuffie lost his mom. [Former Dolphins linebacker] Kim Bokamper lost his wife.
“If we don’t roll up our sleeves and do something, cancer wins.”
The Dolphins, and many others in this community, are indeed doing something.
This weekend marks the fifth annual Dolphins Cycling Challenge, with all the funds gathered going to the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center for research.
More than 1,000 bike-riders gathered Saturday, pedaling three different routes: one in West Palm Beach for 28 miles, one from Sun Life Stadium to Ocean Drive in Miami Beach (29 miles) and the longest trek, from Sun Life to Miami Beach and then on to City Place in West Palm Beach (104 miles).
In five years, the DCC has raised an impressive $10.5 million. That includes $3.5 million this year, which is still short of the DCC’s lofty goal of $5 million.
“Cancer is a disease that does not discriminate,” said Moore, who works as a Dolphins senior vice president, overseeing the franchise’s alumni. “It attacks the rich and the poor, the young and the old. It’s a devastating disease.”
When cancer got a hold of Mandich, then-Dolphins executive Mike Dee took action.
It was Dee’s idea to create the Dolphins Cycling Challenge
Mandich, who after his NFL career had become a popular sports talk-radio personality in South Florida, was diagnosed in 2009. The DCC began in 2010, one year before he passed.
“Mike Dee brought the vision of this taking place in South Florida and making it one of the biggest fundraisers in the country,” said Mike Mandich, 31, Jim’s son who now serves as the CEO of the Dolphins Cycling Challenge.
During the first four years of this event, the DCC was held during the Dolphins’ season. Now, organizers say the event has found its permanent home on the schedule — the weekend after the Super Bowl.
This year’s event ends Sunday, when, for the first time, there will also be a 5K for those who prefer to run or walk as opposed to riding a bike.
Either way, it’s all for a great cause and great fun, Mandich said.
“Every dollar we raise goes to cancer research,” said Mandich, who like his father played tight end at the University of Michigan, first as a walk-on and then on scholarship.
“Having the Dolphins behind this helps a lot. I believe this event makes our community a better place.
“Isn’t it our duty to have one of the best places for cancer research right here in our backyard?”
For more information on the DCC, visit RideDCC.com.