With Breast Cancer Awareness Month right around the corner, the number of “pink” events taking place here in Atlanta and all over the country is growing by the day! One series of events that kicks off this weekend is the Young Survival Coalition’s Tour de Pink bike rides to raise money for their outreach, education, and advocacy programs. I’m planning to attend the ride here in Atlanta this weekend as a spectator and I’m hoping that I can convince you to as well!
About the Young Survival Coalition
The Young Survival Coalition (or YSC) is, per their website, the premier global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. YSC was founded in 1998 by three women who had all been diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 35. Recognizing the relative rarity of their situation and the unique issues facing young women with breast cancer, YSC was born. YSC is head-quartered in New York City and currently has affililiates in 30 cities across the United States.
The primary goal of YSC is to improve and increase both the quality and quantity of life for young breast cancer patients and survivors. To achieve this, YSC focuses its efforts on three fronts:
- Advocacy – YSC advocates for increased research attention focused on the unique issues facing young women with breast cancer, including higher mortality rates, body image issues, and survivorship questions about things such as fertility and early menopause. Through their “Reach Up and Speak Out” programs, YSC is working to empower and unite the voices in the young survivor community to shine a spotlight on a much needed area of increased research.
- Education – Breast cancer in young people is not the same as breast cancer in post-menopausal women. YSC provides educational information and leads seminars to help highlight these differences and educate young women with breast cancer so that they can make informed choices about their own care and treatment. Moreover, YSC dedicates considerable efforts to increasing awareness of breast cancer in younger women, emphasizing that this is not a disease that limits itself to older women.
- Community building and patient support – The community of young breast cancer survivors is relatively small, leading these women to often feel out of place or overlooked at traditional cancer patient support groups. YSC and its affiliates regularly host networking and social events as well as an annual conference specifically targeted at young cancer patients and survivors in order to help young women find and support each other through their cancer journeys and beyond.
About the Tour de Pink
The Tour de Pink is a series of bike rides at various locations across the country that serves a dual purpose as the YSC’s primary annual fundraiser and as a wonderful celebration of the YSC community. Or, as YSC Board President, founding member and three-time breast cancer survivor Lisa J. Frank puts it (much more artfully):
Tour de Pink was created to empower young women diagnosed with breast cancer. Our participants create an incredibly strong community that one wishes they could experience every day. Combine that with the inspiration everyone feels when they watch a young woman climb on a bike to reclaim her body after being diagnosed with breast cancer and you truly have the experience of a lifetime.
The Tour de Pink was first started in 2004 with just five riders, who rode 200 miles from the Boston suburbs to the NYU Cancer Institute in New York City. That inaugural event raised $26,000 for YSC; with more than 1400 riders expected to take part in at least one Tour de Pink ride in 2012, that number only promises to grow.
For the 2012 season, interested participants have the choice of a number of events depending on geographic location and riding ability. The two primary events in the Tour de Pink series are each three day, 200 mile long rides that are similar in nature to the Susan G. Komen 3 Day and Avon Breast Cancer Walks. Riders will ride a set distance each day and will “camp” together overnight in hotels. Riders who register for the entire weekend are challenged to raise a minimum of $2500 in order to participate (again, similar to the 3 Day or Avon). There is also a one day option for riders who prefer a shorter challenge. One day riders are asked to raise $250. The dates and locations for these Tour de Pink rides are:
- East Coast Tour de Pink (September 28th – 30th): Riders start in Philadelphia, PA and end in Washington DC
- West Coast Tour de Pink (October 12th – 14th): Riders will start in Thousand Oaks, CA and end in Foothill Ranch, CA.
Each of these events is limited to just 200 riders and I’m not sure if registration is still open for either of them. However, if you live along the route (you can double check the east coast route here and the west coast route here), please take some time to head out and cheer on these riders. Not only are they taking on a tremendous physical challenge, but they’ve also been working for months to raise lots and lots of money for a good cause. Give them a supportive car honk, pass out water bottles, whatever seems right for you. As a fellow endurance event participant, I can testify that community support goes such a long way!
In addition to these two multi-day events, there are two other single day Tour de Pink events that folks can take part in:
- The Indoor Tour de Pink (Columbus, OH): If you live in or are willing to travel to Columbus, Ohio, you have the option of taking part in an indoor, two hour stationary bike team relay event on October 27th (so basically like a giant spin class where teammates take turns on the bikes). Participants in this event are asked to raise $125 for each half-hour that they plan to ride. If you are interested in taking part, you can register here. There was a similar event held in Seattle on September 23rd, which you can read about here.
- The One Day Tour de Pink Atlanta: If you live in or are willing to travel to Atlanta (my neck of the woods!), you have the option of taking part in a single day, outside Tour de Pink bike ride (or simultaneous 5K family run/walk). For more details on this event, jump down to the next section.
Finally, if you can’t make it to any of these events and aren’t satisfied by just donating to YSC and really have to get on your bike, you can always register as a Virtual Rider for any of the above Tour de Pink events. More information on that can be found here.
About the Atlanta Tour de Pink Event
This coming weekend, over 600 riders, walkers, and runners will be taking over the northern suburbs of Atlanta and turning it pink in Atlanta’s only bike ride for breast cancer, the Tour de Pink. The festivities for this one day event kick off at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in northern Atlanta at 7:30am, with riders then heading out into the streets along four courses of various distances. Riders will take on either a 20 mile, 40 mile, 65 mile, or 100 mile course before returning to the Verizon Amphitheater for Closing Ceremonies. If running or walking is more your style, once the riders have begun their journeys, a smaller 5K run/walk will commence from the Amphitheater grounds as well. Throughout the day, there will be entertainment, food, and family friendly activities for supporters and participants to enjoy. The last riders are expected to finish around 5pm. You can find details on all of the days activities here.
If you live in the Atlanta area, I highly encourage you to come out and support YSC and these awesome riders as they tackle the Tour de Pink. As with the other Tour de Pink events, these riders (and runners and walkers…) have each raised $125 just to participate in this ride. They are working hard to support a cause they believe in. Even if you can only spare an hour, please stop along the route or at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and cheer on these riders!
If I’ve managed to convince you to check out the Tour de Pink Atlanta this weekend, you can find directions to the race site here and a detailed schedule of events here. You can also download the courses here. For similar details for the East Coast, West Coast and Indoor events, please click on the links above.
Thanks for reading about this great cause and I’ll see you out there as I cheer on the Tour de Pink Atlanta riders!
Video of the 2011 Tour de Pink Atlanta, courtesy of the Young Survival Coalition
PS – Much like with the 3 Day or the AVON walks, registration for all of the Tour de Pink events begins months prior to the event dates. Keep your eyes open for a follow up blog post about how to register to take part in one these rides in 2013 sometime in mid-spring!