Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Cancer Challenge is a family affair for charitable Feinsilvers

Zack Feinsilver with his father Paul and sister Corey, February 17, 2016. The family raised $24,000 for cancer and recently Corey and Zack's mother, Paul's wife, lost her life to cancer.
Zack Feinsilver with his father Paul and sister Corey, February 17, 2016. The family raised $24,000 for cancer and recently Corey and Zack's mother, Paul's wife, lost her life to cancer. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

One of Corey Feinsilver’s last and lasting memories of her mother came just days before her death.

Denny Feinsilver had bravely fought breast cancer for seven long years, thanks in large part to the people at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

But in the fall of 2013, she was near the end. Her daughter was seven months pregnant.

“My mom passed away two months before my daughter was born,” Corey Feinsilver said. “It was one of those moments of, looking in her eyes, knowing that she’s not going to meet my daughter.”

She continued: “My mother was really the most incredible woman. Cancer’s not fair. Cancer doesn’t care who you are. Cancer’s hitting the good guys. I just wish so badly, with what we’ve been through, I wish we were the only ones. We’re so not the only ones. The story is so common. There’s nothing unique about us.”

The people who run the Dolphins Cancer Challenge disagree.

There’s plenty special about Corey and her brother Zack.

They’re doing what their mother, a champion of Sylvester, would want. They’re raising a small fortune for cancer research.

On Saturday, Corey and Zack Feinsilver will ride in the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, a massive event that has raised $11 million for Sylvester in its first five years. All the proceeds go directly to cancer research.

The bike ride is bigger than ever. The Dolphins are expecting 3,000 riders. More than $3 million has already been raised. There’s also a new 5K run/walk and a concert featuring Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge.

Cancer’s not fair. Cancer doesn’t care who you are. Cancer’s hitting the good guys.

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The Feinsilvers are participating for the first time. And they’re bringing a mint with them. Their group, named Team Denny, has raised $40,000 — a sum they expect will still grow. No rookie team has raised more.

“As proud as she is of her entire family, she always wanted a major legacy and learning point to be to fundraise and to help others,” Zack Feinsilver said. “That was a focus until the day she died. She made it very, very clear. She focused on helping others forever. Although I know she’s proud of us everyday, this is a very special day.”

Both Denny and her husband Paul both turned to Sylvester when they were diagnosed.

Sylvester doctors helped Paul Feinsilver beat cancer. He had a sarcoma in his right leg that doctors removed and then treated with radiation and chemotherapy more than a decade ago.

He’s been in remission ever since.

Denny, sadly, was not so fortunate. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, but soldiered through years of treatment that didn’t dampen her spirit.

“It was not uncommon for Mom to be at Sylvester, doing her chemo, and she would be on the phone, counseling someone else through their chemo,” Corey said.

She made Sylvester her passion, creating new ways to raise funds. In 2006, Denny and Paul Feinsilver received the Halpern Award for leadership and philanthropy.

And she’s inspired her children to pick up the baton. Many of those who have contributed to Corey and Zack’s ride have done so in her memory.

Even her granddaughter is involved. Alex Denny Feinsilver is now just 2, but she’ll be walking the 5K with her big brother.

They won’t be alone.

Their grandfather Paul will be with them, every step of the way.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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