The Breakthrough Bike Challenge will hold its 4th Annual ride on Sunday, Sept. 17, at the Daniel Boone Homestead in Oley Valley. All of participant-raised funds support early-career cancer researchers at the University of Pennsylvania through the Richard “Buz” Cooper Scholars program.
Researchers use pilot grants to investigate novel ideas with the hopes of applying for private or government grants in the future. The value of this process was evident last week when the FDA approved personalized cellular therapy for advanced leukemia. This research provides hope for children and young adults across the world.
“That is precisely what the Breakthrough Bike Challenge strives for,” said Chris Hall, a Hill resident and co-founder of the organization.
“One of the great things about this ride,” said Jeff Krieger, another Hill resident and co-founder, “is that you don’t have to be a bike racer to enjoy it.”
The bike challenge offers three different routes.
“We have a 12 mile loop, a 25 mile, and a 50,” said Krieger, who has has biked out west and in Canada, but has not found anything that rivals the beauty of the Oley Valley. “This ride offers views of rich farmland, blossoming apple orchards, and two covered bridges – it can’t be beat,” Krieger attested.
Co-founder Jennifer Martin moved to Center City from Chestnut Hill after losing her husband Muscoe Martin to brain cancer in 2014. She rides in the hope that the bike ride will help researchers incubate a concept that eventually contributes to a cure for glioblastoma.
“Small steps,” Martin said. “We want to lay the foundation to create more options.”
Penn Medicine colleague, and fellow-board member Beth Johnston added: “everyone knows it’s going to happen this century; we’re trying to help make it happen in the first-half.”
Co-founder Randy Bown of Flourtown cited the critical support of sponsors who cover the ride cost: Saul Ewing LLP, Penn Medicine, Industrial Investment, Delran Builders, Hangley Aronchick, Almac Group, Independence Blue Cross, and Krieger Architects.
Bown cited new board member, Bo Ebby, as an example. Ebby had a rare form of melanoma and had run out of options. A team at Penn saved his life with a novel immunotherapy drug. Two years ago, Bo was too sick to ride a bike.
“Now he kicks our butts,” Bown said.
Above all, the Breakthrough Bike Challenge seeks to host an enjoyable and safe event.
“We will have a well-marked route,” board member Ernie Tracy, of Wyndmoor, assured. “Sunday morning in the Oley Valley is the safest time and place to ride.”
Anyone interested in joining the ride can visit www.breakthroughbikechallenge.org.