Rancho Bernardo resident Suzanne Hatcher has taken part in San Diego’s annual Padres Pedal the Cause fundraiser for cancer research since it began in 2013. But it took on an added significance a few years later when her husband of 11 years, Healthcliff, died of acute myeloid leukemia.
“It is a really meaningful organization for me to be involved with,” said Hatcher, whose son Ian, 10, participates in the kids challenge.
This year they will join more than 2,000 other cyclists Nov. 16 who will ride in one of four courses, including a 100-mile Century course, 88-mile Honey Springs Heartbreaker, 55-mile Olympic Challenge and a 25-mile Coronado Classic. All routes cross the Coronado Bridge, one of the rare times it closes to traffic for reasons other than police activity or threats of suicide attempts, and ends on the field at Petco Park. There will also be a 5K for runners and walkers.
For Hatcher and other participants who have lost family members to cancer, the event offers a sense of community. She also said the increased participation and sponsorships have helped take the fundraiser’s efforts “to a much higher level” from its more grassroots beginnings.
“It really has changed into much more of a community event,” Hatcher said.
The founders of Pedal the Cause, Rancho Santa Fe residents Bill and Amy Koman, started the daylong fundraiser in St. Louis in 2009. When his real estate business expanded west, they started a San Diego version of the event.
“It was more friends and family,” Bill Koman , a two-time lymphoma survivor, recalling the first years. “Now we’re seeing a lot of survivors, a lot of major corporations, a lot of companies.”
The growing participation of the local community has helped the event raise more than $10 million since 2013, including almost $3 million last year. Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and Sanford-Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have used the money for cancer research projects and clinical trials.
This year’s Padres Pedal the Cause, less than one month away, has already surpassed $1 million raised and has nearly 2,400 total participants, according to the Pedal the Cause website.
“The more people that participate, the more money we raise, the bigger impact we have,” Koman said.
Registration opens Nov. 16 at 4:30 a.m., and the lineup of events runs through 5 p.m. For more information, visit gopedal.org.