By Pat Carragher - March 20, 2023
Four days. More than 300 miles. That’s how far and how long more than 30 cyclists will ride to raise money for cancer research and prevention. Cure on Wheels kicked off its 13th annual Capitol Ride Sunday morning. The cyclists left Tampa for Tallahassee where they will arrive at the State Capitol building on Wednesday. Once there, they will meet with state representatives to advocate for more funding for cancer research and patient services at Moffitt Cancer Center.
“It’s a ride, it’s not a race,” said Joshua Rivera, who is participating in his ninth Capitol Ride. “It’s a camaraderie, a brotherhood, a sisterhood of like-minded individuals who cancer changed everyone’s life in this group. We all want to give back and we all want to support the cause.”
Rivera is Moffitt’s Pathology Business Operations Director. When he was 27 years old he was diagnosed with stage four Ewing soft cell sarcoma and given a 15% chance to live. What followed was 1,100 hours of chemotherapy, two dozen radiation treatments and six surgeries.
Today, Rivera is a cancer survivor and makes it his mission to give back.
“In my mind, I had these things I wanted to accomplish in my life: family and children and travel the world,” Rivera said. “It really makes you appreciate things differently.”
Richard Spayde is the president of Cure on Wheels. He’s also a leukemia survivor and Moffitt patient. Since forming the organization in 2007, Cure on Wheels has donated more than $1 million to programs that support cancer research and care.
“Hopefully nobody ever hears the words ‘you have cancer,’ Spayde said. “But if they do, how wonderful is it that we have Moffitt Cancer Center right here locally? While they’ve come a long way in treating cancer, we still need to keep pushing as hard as we can to get the resources that we need, so if somebody does hear those words, they can find a cure.”
The cyclists will ride about 100 miles for the first three days, stopping in Ocala and Lake City along the way. After they arrive in Tallahassee, they will present a check with the proceeds from last year’s ride which raised more than $70,000.
The funding will be used to support adolescent and young adult fertility services, blood and marrow transplantation services and research in the lab headed by Dr. Ghassan El-Haddad, who is developing novel, targeted and minimally invasive image-guided cancer therapies.