After riding more than 300 miles from Tampa to Tallahassee a group of cyclists has made it to their destination. They’re hoping their 10-speed trek will encourage lawmakers to shift cancer funding into first gear.
The riders are working with the Moffitt Cancer Center to raise awareness about cancer research. And rider and cancer survivor Richard Spayde said he knew they’d done just that when the group stopped for lunch in Gainesville. There, a 10 year-old-girl who has cancer, and her father approached the group to thank them.
“I looked down and realized that she had lost one of her legs to this terrible disease. And it didn’t slow her
down at all. She had this big grin and big smile and she let out this big “thank you’ to all of the riders. And it was at that moment that we collectively remembered why we ride and why we do this. It’s not just about saving lives. It’s about saving families and saving futures,” Spayde said.
Spayde said some people think of cycling as an individual sport. But he said it’s actually better in a team. When one person gets too tired he can move to the back of the line and save some energy by drafting off the rest of the group for a while getting pulled along in the wake. He said that’s how his team did it on their 300 mile trip to Tallahassee and he said he hopes that same idea of teamwork will continue when it comes to supporting efforts to stop cancer at the state’s capital.
“And that’s why we push our bodies to the limits. To raise awareness for increased cancer funding, research funding,” Spayde said.
Representative James Grant, a Republican from Tampa attended the event. Organizers called Grant one of their biggest legislative supporters. But Grant said he’s really just the guy in the back of the line, doing what he can to follow their lead.
“You have my commitment that as long as I’m in elected office I will continue to be an advocate for everything that you do,” Grant said.
Moffit Cancer Center is asking the legislature for an increase in funding for education and research through the State University System. Right now the center gets $10.6 million per year. The group is hoping to increase that to $13.9-million. The center is also asking the legislature to renew its appropriation from Florida’s biomedical research trust fund.
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