For the past five years, Don Dasher of the Bay Area FranNet has participated in the annual Canary Challenge cycling event in Palo Alto, California. In 2016 alone, Don logged 100 miles and gained 8500 feet in total elevation on his bike. And while that may seem like a great feat, Don is most proud of the $2670 that he raised for early cancer detection research.
Don’s contributions along with the rest of the event’s proceeds go towards the Canary Foundation, the world’s first non-profit organization dedicated solely to the funding, discovery and development of tests for early cancer detection. The name “Canary” derived from the phrase “canary in a coalmine” as a metaphor for advanced warning of danger. The Foundation itself is based on the simple statistics: Victims detected in stages 1 or 2 have greater than a 90% chance of defeating the disease, while cancer detected in stages 3 & 4 reverse those chances giving victims a less than 10% of survival. This past year the event raised a whopping $750,000 and had over 600 participants.
Prior to FranNet, Don worked in the oncology field for over a decade and elaborated on why this cause resonates with him. “I personally have watched many friends and family die from cancer that was not detected early or misdiagnosed...which is worse,” said Don. “This foundation and, subsequently this event, became one of my passions. What inspires me is the tragic fact that each of the five years that I have participated, I have had someone new for whom to ride – this year alone I had two.”
As captain of Team Big Dogs and being 6’5”, Don actively recruits fellow “larger than average” cyclists to join in the ride (but happily welcomes all). And while his team participates in the 100 mile stretch every year, there are other options for people of all shapes and sizes to partake in, such as the 50k, 75k, and 100k routes. There is even a fun 5k that is specifically setup for families. In addition to the races, there are plenty of activities and live performances, as well as food and drinks that draw in observers and athletes alike!
Aside from the excitement that surrounds the ride itself, Don expressed that the best part about participating in the Canary Challenge is the feedback that he gets from donors who were either directly or indirectly affected by cancer. Championing them and their loved ones is an honor for Don who stressed, “We have the technology to deal with almost all pathologies of cancer IF we find it early enough.” His words echo the Canary Foundation’s mantra that “no one gets time back” – and for those with cancer and their families, that can be devastating.
Don and his partners at The Canary Foundation “envision a world of simple and safe tests that could identify and isolate cancer at its earliest, most curable stage.” If you are interested in participating or donating to this worthy cause, you can reach out to Don Dasher directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting http://www.canarychallenge.org/.