A Party Indeed

We raised over $24K! (Hamish for the win on his poppa’s shoulders)

It’s Sunday morning at Equinox Graybar near Grand Central and the roof is being decidedly raised. We walk into the space where maybe a hundred stationary bikes are set up for one of 41 rides nationally as part of Cycle For Survival and it feels like entering a nightclub. The bass is pumping, the lights are low, there are smatterings of neon, people are dressed a little funky and sweat is dripping onto the floor.

There is a palpable, pulsing energy in the room that feels unstoppable. I find myself swept up in power of it as I mount the bike and get to riding. It is my most athletic undertaking since surgery but while I am on the bike, being cheered on by dancers with orange pom-poms and hundreds of supporters, I feel no pain. There’s an instructor with a mic who dials the crowd up and down to match the cadence and intensity of the top 40 dance music (for which I am a sucker). More than once I find myself overwhelmed at the exuberance, determination, positivity, support, and inspiration in the room. It’s a good thing tears get lost in sweat so easily.

The program this year raised almost $20M and $50M in the past 8 years. The money goes directly to clinical and laboratory research for rare cancers at MSK and has funded over 85 studies (50% of cancer diagnoses are rare cancers but they are relatively underfunded). This is enormously impressive and important but it’s not what struck me as most powerful about the experience.

It is the connectivity that it creates. Small groups of teams are formed -usually around someone who is or has struggled with cancer- and connect with contributors; those teams (16,000 riders in all)  join up for rides which are joined together by the national group. There is a live stream on multiple monitors of tweets and instagrams from all over the country pouring in. And there is a feeling of being part of something much larger than yourself, of being plugged into a network that is lit up with an intensity that is remarkable.

In the end it is what this fight is all about. The greatest fear that rises in me when I face death is the fear of being completely and permanently alone. And the deepest sadness is the image of leaving those I love alone in my death. It is connectivity that we fight for, it is the honoring, nourishment and survival of our relationships for which we cycle.

Thank you to all the riders in A Party of Jays: Nicky Agate [capt.], Danielle Allen, Renee Baumann, Matt Brand [in absentia], Steven Crumb, Katie Rose Hillegass, Emily Levine, Rich Nisa; all of our contributors;  everyone at Equinox Graybar; and the C4S organization.  We’ll see you next year.

Comments

  1. Congrats. I am endlessly uplifted.

  2. Sebastian says:

    Congrats! Wish I could have been there to pedal along with you guys!

    Thinking of you a lot here in Oxford. It pained me to see your message about needing more surgery, but I’m psyched that your tumor marker is so low and know that you are getting ever closer to kicking this cancer’s ass for good!

    Love you bro and hope to see you soon.

  3. Jay: we ride for the cause, but we also ride for you. It is a testament to your personality, character, and general awesomesauceness that we raised this much money.

    Damn straight we’ll see them next year. Think we can make 50K?

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