How One Medical Center Team Gears Up for Velocity Ride

It’s spring, and that means members of Pedaling Past Pancreatic Cancer are preparing to start training for Velocity, Columbia’s Ride to End Cancer.

Pedaling Past Pancreatic Cancer team members Annie Onishi, MD; John A. Chabot, MD; Antonio T. Fojo, MD; Michael D. Kluger, MD; and Chabot’s friend Jared Moscow pose in biking gear at Velocity Ride..
An image from a previous Velocity Ride shows Pedaling Past Pancreatic Cancer team members, from left, Annie Onishi, MD; John A. Chabot, MD; Antonio T. Fojo, MD; Michael D. Kluger, MD; and Chabot’s friend Jared Moscow. 

The Oct. 6 ride is especially significant to this team. Its members aren’t just avid bicycle riders; they are clinicians and administrative employees at Columbia University Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC), where they and their colleagues care for cancer patients using new approaches to treat cancer, including immunotherapy and precision medicine. Funds raised through Velocity will support cancer research and treatments at the HICCC and benefit the center’s 650 clinical trials and studies.

Pedaling Past Pancreatic Cancer was the top fundraising group at last year’s ride, raising more than $81,000 from colleagues, friends, and patients. “Our day-to-day work is so important. People’s lives hang in the balance,” said John Chabot, MD, the David V. Habif Professor of Surgery at CUMC. “Our work is incredibly gratifying, but the seriousness can become overwhelming. Velocity is a way to be with our work teams and our patients and have some fun together while supporting this great cause.”

Chabot is vice president of ColumbiaDoctors, chief of the Division of GI/Endocrine Surgery, and executive director of the Pancreas Center at CUIMC. As a leader at the medical center, Chabot said he felt an obligation to participate in the inaugural ride. So, he signed up and bought a bike—only to discover that he enjoyed riding. He has ridden in all three Velocity rides. “I love the event,” he said.

Franklin Dwyer, a clinical coordinator at the HICCC, described riding with Pedaling Past Pancreatic Cancer last year: “I felt like I was contributing to an amazing cause in a very personal way. It means a lot to me since I develop close relationships with my pancreatic cancer patients. Being part of this team pushes me to go that extra mile for my patients and shows them that I really care about them on a personal level.”

Pedaling Past Pancreatic Cancer is just one of several teams from Columbia University Irving Medical Center that will join other individuals and teams to ride in Velocity.

How it Works

Registration is open to members of the Columbia community and the general public and registered riders commit to a fundraising minimum based on their preferred distance: 10, 25, 45, or 62.5 miles, with each option having its own start area where riders merge onto the main course. Donations are tax deductible, and riders will receive online training and fundraising support tools. Last year, more than 800 riders and volunteers, including physicians, nurses, patients, staff, and friends, came out to support Velocity, raising more than $1.2 million. 

The event begins in Pomona, in Rockland County, New York, and continues south through the scenic Hudson Valley before all riders cross the George Washington Bridge and arrive at Columbia University Irving Medical Center for the Finish Line Festival, a celebration with live music, food, and beverages.

“We had great support staff at the finish line. It wouldn’t have been fun or meaningful without them,” said Pedaling Past Pancreatic Cancer team member Beth Schrope, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery at CUMC and director of the Pancreas Center.

Are you ready to ride? To learn more about how to support Velocity, become a sponsor, or register to ride, visit velocityride.org.