You've seen this story written several times over the course of this site's existence. The Miami Dolphins annually host the largest fundraiser in the entire NFL, the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, to help battle against the scourge that is cancer.
You've seen how people feel about this event, how they personally are touched by the event and the pain that the disease itself has caused them and their loved ones.
You've heard from Michael Mandich, the son of Jim "Mad Dog" Mandich for whom the challenge was founded, you've heard from Mark Duper, who fought and won his own bout with cancer. And this year, we got the opportunity to hear from new head coach Brian Flores, who shared his own story about his mother's passing at the hands of cancer just five weeks earlier.
Each year the event grows more and more, featuring more riders, more runners, and more money raised to put an end to cancer once and for all.
"This is our biggest year yet, we're going to have over 5,000 participants and volunteers ... we're really grateful and proud of the community of Miami and Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach that come out year after year and support this." said Jennifer Jehn, the Senior Vice President of the Miami Dolphins Foundation and Dolphins Cancer Challenge. "100 percent of the funds we raise go directly to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Research is expensive, research saves lives, and we're committed to giving patients their life back."
Last time we had a definitive count on how much money had been raised, it was over $27.5 million dollars given to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
This year, enough money was raised to make that number seem small in comparison.
In less than ten years, the Dolphins Cancer Challenge has raised over $38 million dollars for cancer research, and this is no doubt a result of the fact that people of every walk of life come to support the cause. It doesn't matter whether participants are Republican, Democrat, straight, gay, or even if they're from another planet (this is a joke, ladies and gentlemen), there is no one you can talk to who will suggest that cancer is not a concern.
It's that rare sense of unity that allows the event to gain so much support year after year; Dolphins alumni come out in force to show their support. Even former cornerback Don McNeal, who for the past several years has battled multiple sclerosis, showed his support by being there, pulled by another biker at the 14-mile ride from the training facility to the stadium.
Current players like Raekwon McMillan, Walt Aikens, Zach Sterup and Kenny Stills threw their helmets into the ring, wanting to give more to the event than just their physical presence; they wanted to actually be a part of it.
"I wanted to do more than stand at the finish line and congratulate people." Stills said. "I wanted to be a part, so I was able to do both: ride, and then talk to people at the end and congratulate them and give them medals ... It's pretty special what we do here as an organization, with all of our events honestly."
Even now, funds are still being collected until May 7, 2019, so even the massive number we have on record may still not be the final one for this year alone.
Lives are being changed through the research being done at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and for the Miami Dolphins to be at the forefront of those changes, even as the football side of the organization goes through a massive change of its own, once again speaks volumes to the dedication the franchise - and those affiliated with it - have to making the world a better place.
The story isn't new, but the impact of the event doesn't fade, it just gets stronger, larger, and breaks records on the way to finding an ultimate cure to cancer.
“Throughout the entire 100 mile ride, I observed the dedication of so many people working to make this happen. The incredible support from the Miami Dolphins Foundation, the thousands of DCC participants, and donations from many generous contributors have such a significant impact on the patient-focused research we conduct,” Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., said. “Having a record number of cancer survivors participating speaks to the important progress we are making treating cancer. It all starts with research.”
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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