The Triangle has a proud sports history. It has been home to some of college basket- ball’s most storied names. One of those names that continues to make an impact beyond the court in the Triangle is Jim Valvano, also known as Jimmy V.
In 1983, Coach Valvano led the NC State University Men’s basketball team, dubbed the Cardiac Pack, to a national championship victory. Ten years later, Coach Valvano faced a new fight – a personal battle with cancer. As he stood on the ESPYs stage in 1993, in the midst of that fight, he encouraged everyone to laugh, think and cry each day. He challenged everyone to live life to the fullest.
He also made a commitment to take on cancer. That commitment continues to live on 26 years later in his namesake organization, the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Though he passed away in 1993, Jimmy V continues to make an impact through the V Foundation, which has awarded more than $225 million to cutting-edge cancer research nationwide.
On game day, the Triangle community remains divided between Wolfpack, Tar Heels, Blue Devils and Deacons, but the V Foundation provides a common cause that the entire community can get behind. The V Foundation is hosting the Second Annual Victory Ride to Cure Cancer on Saturday, May 18. One-hundred percent of rider-raised funds from the Victory Ride benefits cancer research at Duke Cancer Institute, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Wake Forest Baptist Health Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as NCI-designated cancer centers nationwide.
Participants in the Victory Ride come together with different goals. Some are there to honor someone they love who is in their own cancer battle. Others are there to remember someone dear. Still others ride to fund the next great researcher. Some, like Ryan Switzer, are there to give back to an institution that saved their life.
Switzer has been an endurance athlete for many years. He is used to pushing his body to the limit. In 2015, as he trained for his first ever Ironman triathlon, he noticed that he was getting weaker, not stronger. Worried, he went to his doctor to get checked out. Switzer was diagnosed with stage two colorectal cancer.
Determined to face this disease head-on, Switzer agreed to participate in a clinical trial through Duke, in addition to surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. He was declared cancer free and has spent much of his time since raising funds for research and other cancer-related programs. Switzer’s perseverance in the face of great adversity has been a real inspiration to many, and this year he will act as captain for the Duke Cancer Institute team in the Victory Ride.
RACING FOR A REASON
The V Foundation’s motto, coined on the ESPY stage, is “Don’t Give Up … Don’t Ever Give Up!”. Switzer, along with the other cyclists at the Victory Ride, embody that spirit. The stories are varied, but the mission is clear: Victory Over Cancer.
There is Joe Cece, proprietor of CycleBar North Hill and Cary, who is a prostate cancer survivor and has provided his cycling studio for training rides to prepare participants for the Victory Ride. Cid Cardoso, the owner of Inside Out Sports, views the fight against cancer as a challenge to face head-on. Barbara Wiedemann, a longtime sup- porter of the V Foundation, started cycling in honor of her late husband who passed away following a battle with adenocarcinoma esophageal cancer.
Most recently, George Hincapie, a 17-time Tour de France competitor, five-time Olympian and lead rider for teams that included Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contado and Cadel Evans, signed on to be the Grand Marshall of the Victory Ride. “The work that the V Foundation does to support cancer re- search is crucial to the fight against this disease, and I’m proud to be a part of the ride,” Hincapie says.
This is no ordinary bike ride. This is a celebration of the 16 million cancer survivors in the U.S. And a commitment for Jim Valvano, as we honor his legacy and remember his words, “Don’t Give Up … Don’t Ever Give Up!”
Second Annual Victory Ride to Cure Cancer
A community of cancer survivors, doctors, family and friends will rally together on Saturday, May 18, at NC State’s Centennial Campus to kick off the second annual
Victory Ride. Routes include options for the novice to experts at 10, 30, 60 or 100 miles, as well as a kids’ obstacle course. The routes travel beautiful country roads that pass by Lake Wheeler, Jordan Lake, Harris Lake and Lake John- son, ending with a post-ride celebration where riders and spectators can enjoy local beers and food trucks to celebrate their achievements.
To join the ride or donate, visit www.thevictoryride.org.