Cyclists to tackle uphill climb for cancer cure
July 21, 2009
By Katherine Walker
Joel Blatt knows as well as anyone how difficult a battle with cancer is. He witnessed its effects firsthand when he lost his father to the disease in 2002.
“I always have wanted to help others and give back. When I dealt with cancer … I decided then and there to start an event,” Blatt said.
That event became reality in 2006 with the bike fundraiser Climb for Cancer.
The event involves a bike ride up a two-mile hill that is notorious in Issaquah for its length and personality. The ride is up Zoo Hill, located behind Cougar Mountain Zoo.
“It really tests you,” Blatt said.
The event is a time-trial race, but welcomes participants of all skill levels.
Bob Vincent, of Sammamish, is an avid cyclist who has participated in Climb for Cancer since its creation four years ago. Vincent was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996, and two years later lost his father to skin cancer. He has become an advocate for donating to cancer research. He applauds Blatt’s hard work and devotion.
“My hat is off to Joel for making it happen and bringing it back for us each year,” Vincent said.Carol Mutzel, of Bellevue, has also participated in Climb for Cancer since its creation. In the first race, she was one of only three women cyclists. Mutzel’s father passed away from colon cancer and she also has a close friend who is battling breast cancer.
“I do the climb to honor my father and to support and honor others who have had cancer touch their lives,” Mutzel said.
She encourages more people to come to the event this year.
“It is a short course, safe and the other bikers are good, fun people,” she said. “Riders can make of it what they want.”
Unlike other fundraiser races, Climb for Cancer does not require a donation to register. Blatt covers the event costs on his own. However, he encourages participants to make a donation to Fred Hutchinson, The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance or any other organization of their choosing.
“His event is unique in that he asks for nothing from the riders, only an optional donation where 100 percent of the funds raised go to the chosen organization,” Vincent said.
Blatt said he wants to encourage more philanthropy in the community.
“I want people to develop the habit of giving back,” he said.
Every year, the number of participants in the Climb for Cancer doubles, and it isn’t just riders, but also volunteers who help organize the event. In the past, the ride has raised thousands of dollars for cancer research.
Blatt said he finds the work fulfilling, because people will do the event and tell him their own story relating to their experiences with cancer.
“It’s a great local community event put on by cyclists for cyclists and supporting a needed effort to find a cure for cancer,” Vincent said. “I can’t think of a better way to promote health awareness than to be outside exercising with your friends and cheering each other on in a race.”
What to know
This year’s Climb for Cancer is Aug. 2. Register and learn more at www.climb4cancer.net.
Katherine Walker is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.