Chappaqua Moms Cycle for a World Without Cancer
While most Chappaqua residents were trying to adjust to losing an hour of sleep during daylight savings on March 12, 28 moms from Chappaqua gathered at the train station to board a train to Grand Central. The Chappy Gals were en route to participate in their fourth Cycle for Survival event, after months of planning and fundraising to do their part to help raise funds for Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital.
Team Chappy Gals was started four years ago by Chari Hirshson. She was inspired to start a team in support of cancer research when her then four-year-old daughter wished for a grandfather when asked what she most wanted during a recital. Chari lost her father to esophageal cancer, a type of rare cancer, when she was 18 and her husband lost both of his parents to cancer before their wedding (gall bladder and ovarian cancer).
“I was looking for a way to feel like I was actually doing something to help the battle against cancer and bring some hope to the cause,” said Hirshson. “Cycle for Survival has been such an inspiration to myself and family, especially as the cancer that has struck our family so significantly have been rare cancers. My hope is that in our lifetime, there will be a cure and I believe that the research being conducted at MSK will help us get there.”
Over the last four years, the team and its efforts have greatly expanded. What started as a team of 10 in 2014 has grown to the 28 women, all of who were riding in honor or memory of someone battling with cancer. This year, Chappy Gals raised more than $95,000 (at press time) bringing the total fundraising efforts of the team since inception to more than $232,000 (and growing).
Each team member was tasked with raising funds to support their ride–a four hour spin class on a cycling bike, broken up into one hour rides, held at Equinox gyms around the country. Team members raised money on an individual basis as well as reached out to the Chappaqua community for support. In late January, Chappy Gals co-sponsored a fundraising event at Lucy’s in Pleasantville. The highlight was a silent auction and raffle, with prizes donated by area stores, restaurants and services. More than 150 people were in attendance raising more than $14,000 was raised that evening.
“It was amazing to have the support of the community. We sincerely thank every Chappaqua and Mount Kisco store and business for donating their time, services and goods to help our cause,” added Hirshson.
Cycle for Survival, now in its 11th year, is dedicated to raising money to support research to fight rare cancers. One hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to fund research at Memorial Sloan Kettering, the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center, with funds allocated within six months of the event. Rare cancers are not as rare as they seem. Half of all cancer patients have what is considered a rare cancer, which includes brain, pancreatic, ovarian, thyroid, stomach, leukemia, lymphoma, pediatric cancers and many others.
The Cycle for Survival event is held throughout the country in Equinox gyms across 16 cities. So far in 2017, more than $33 million has been raised, bringing the total of funds raised since inception to more than $139 million for rare cancer research, which has directly contributed to more than 100 clinical trials and research studies.
“Being in the room, hearing the collective hum of hundreds of spin bikes, and listening to both heartbreaking and hopeful stories is such an impactful and inspirational experience,” said Hirshson.
“We exceeded our goal in 2017 and hope to raise the bar even further in 2018 with the support of the amazing women on this team and the greater community.”