Tag Archive | "Dolphins Cancer Challenge"

Dolphins Cancer Challenge Draws Thousands

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Dolphins Cancer Challenge Draws Thousands

Thousands of cancer survivors and supporters turn out for annual event

By Robert Benchley
Special to UM News

DCC2017MIAMI, Fla. (February 12, 2017)–A brilliantly sunny South Florida Saturday warmed the already upbeat spirit of the Dolphins Cancer Challenge VII on February 11, as 4,000 participants and volunteers cycled, ran, walked or performed countless support tasks to help raise millions more to support the search for cancer cures at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

DCC VII’s five cycling routes — the Dolphins Ride (14 miles), the Ft. Lauderdale Ride (25 miles), the Miami Ride (35 miles), the Boca Ride (52 miles) and the Hurricanes Hundred (100 miles) — departed from different locations throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, but all ended at the finish line in the Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium, where thousands of family, friends, co-workers and other supporters awaited them with music, cheers, cameras and home-made signs of thanks.

The throng of runners and walkers taking part in the DCC 5K, with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” blaring from the loudspeakers for inspiration, traveled a 3.1-mile route that began and ended at the stadium.

Most of the participants in the DCC, which has raised more than $16 million for Sylvester since its start seven years ago, have experienced cancer first-hand, either as a survivor or as the family member or friend of someone who was lost to the disease. And every year they show that generosity and determination know no age limits.

Ninety-three-year-old Ethel Kapnek’s involvement with Sylvester started before anyone in her family had cancer. But since she joined The Pap Corps, Champions for Cancer Research soon after moving to South Florida 30 years ago, her family has been devastated by cancer across three generations.

“My husband had prostate cancer and was told he had 10 years to live — he lasted 14,” she said while waiting for the 5K walk to start. “My son had lymphoma at age 53.”

Kapnek’s grandson, Dan Zasloff, who walked with her Saturday morning, was only 13 when he lost his father to lung cancer. Zasloff lives in Seattle now, and his wife, Eden, is battling a brain tumor. She is doing well, he said, even taking tap dancing lessons during her chemo treatment.

“My grandmother has been my inspiration to be here,” Zasloff said. “Her involvement in The Pap Corps long pre-dates my wife’s diagnosis.” Zasloff’s wife, who works in cancer research, talked to physicians all over the country — including at Sylvester — when she was diagnosed.

“I would do anything for Sylvester,” Kapnek said. “A friend of mine facing a cancer diagnosis was told she would have to lose her leg, but she came to Sylvester and now is doing fine.”

Kapnek got her daughter, Judith Zasloff Lakind, Dan Zasloff’s mother, involved in raising money for Sylvester. They proudly announced that they had raised more than $3,000 for the DCC, and their team Saturday morning included Lakind and her husband, Paul. Paul Lakind lost his first wife to cancer, and his brother had a brain tumor.

“Cancer has always been part of our family,” Dan Zasloff said. “The silver lining of all that is we’re a very healthy family otherwise — we eat well and exercise and don’t have diabetes or heart disease.”

His grandmother, who still works out three days a week, is a testament to the value of that emphasis on health. And she can’t say enough about how much she appreciates Sylvester.

“As long as I can, I’m going to work against cancer,” she said. “I know how much Sylvester does for us.”

Inside the stadium, Linda Raymond and her husband, Frank Raymond, stood near the cycling finish line holding a large sign of encouragement featuring two photographs — one of her late former husband, Charles Maxey, who died of brain cancer six years ago, and the other of their son, Matthew Maxey, who was riding in the DCC for the sixth time in honor of his father.

Matthew, a chemist at Thermo Fisher Scientific, a company that makes equipment used in cancer research, including at Sylvester, completed the 25-mile Ft. Lauderdale Ride with a big smile and pronounced it “a perfect day.”

First-timers Anna and Chris Shinners, who described themselves as “casual runners,” were among the earliest finishers in the 5K. Both work at Breakthru Beverage, one of the DCC sponsors, and their corporate involvement encouraged them to participate on a personal level.

“It’s a great cause, and the music really keeps you going,” said Chris. When an observer noted that Anna had crossed the finish line at a hard run, he added proudly, “She was a pole vaulter in college, and today she’s the mother of two.”

Many members of UM medical leadership and faculty also took part.

“This is a day when the entire South Florida community comes together to work for a cure for cancer,” Steven M. Altschuler, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs and CEO of the University of Miami Health System, said after completing the 5K walk. “Cancer touches everyone’s lives in some way — mothers, fathers, children, friends — and this day is quite moving. On the walk I talked with some of our scientists. They are truly inspired by the dedication and the money we’ve raised for cancer research.”

One of the scientists walking with Altschuler was Ashok K. Saluja, Ph.D., director of the Sylvester Pancreatic Research Institute and a first-time DCC participant, who pronounced the whole day “an amazing experience.”

Omaida C. Velazquez, M.D., professor and chair of the DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, walked with her husband and daughter. “What impressed me was how people of all ages took part,” she said. “We also had many faculty members — even visiting faculty. Sadly, we had a lot of souls to walk for.”

Carl I. Schulman, M.D., M.S.P.H., Ph.D., a trauma surgeon who directs the William Lehman Injury Research Center, was one of several clinical faculty who found the day would put both muscles and medical skills to work.

“I was behind two crashes in the first three miles,” said Schulman, who rode the 35-mile Miami Ride. “I stopped, attended to the cyclists, then continued the ride.” A regular cyclist outside of the DCC, he said he was impressed by how many people lined the side of the road to cheer them on.

Another faculty member, Sylvester Associate Director Erin Kobetz, Ph.D., M.P.H., took part in DCC for the fourth year, riding the 35-mile Miami Ride with her husband, David H. Kerman, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine, and Nipun Merchant, M.D., Sylvester’s chief surgical officer.

“DCC makes me exceptionally proud of all that Sylvester is and all that we can be for our South Florida community,” she said. “Today we witnessed a collective commitment to Sylvester, and it reinforces why I do what I do, and inspires me to be a better leader, scientist, and advocate.”

The story of DCC’s success has spread far beyond South Florida, attracting those who would like to duplicate it in their own area. Mat Warner, who oversees premium sales and service for the Philadelphia Eagles, ran the 5K with some colleagues because the team is considering sponsoring a similar event. “It’s great to support such a wonderful cause,” Warner said soon after he crossed the finish line. “But it’s a little warm — we left 23 degrees!”

By early afternoon, virtually all of the cyclists had completed their long rides, the sun had moved across the sky, putting most of the stadium in the shade, and a large secondary audience was gathering to hear live music.

“What an amazing day!” Sylvester Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., said to the stadium crowd after finishing the 100-mile ride. “I can’t tell you how special it is to be part of this event. I feel a great sense of accomplishment, particularly when I think about what we’re doing for the community. This allows us to bring life-changing cancer care to you. We talk a lot about things like precision medicine and immunotherapy. What they mean is that now more than ever we give people their life back.”

Rider, cancer survivor and Sylvester volunteer Camille Moses kicked off the post-event concert by Counting Crows with a heartfelt expression of gratitude.

“Thank you, cancer fighters!” she called out to the audience. “Because of you, I’m alive!”

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Join Team Hurricanes for the Dolphins Cancer Challenge

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Join Team Hurricanes for the Dolphins Cancer Challenge

DCCWithMePromoPinFINALThere are just five days left to join Team Hurricanes for the Dolphins Cancer Challenge (DCC) on Saturday, February 11. Every dollar raised during DCC directly funds cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System.

Since its inception in 2010, DCC has raised $16.5 million for cancer research at Sylvester, and it’s one of our cancer center’s most important fundraising initiatives.

There are so many ways to DCC. You can register to ride, run, walk or virtually ride in the fight against cancer.

Sylvester physician-experts and cancer researchers work together to discover, develop, and deliver some of the world’s most advanced targeted treatments for cancer, knowing that the right diagnosis and the right treatment delivered at the right time leads to better outcomes, more options, faster responses, and fewer side effects.

There’s not much time left to register to participate as a member of Team Hurricanes. Do it today!


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After a Decade of Leadership, Joe Natoli to Step Down

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After a Decade of Leadership, Joe Natoli to Step Down

UM News

Joe Natoli

Joe Natoli

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 22, 2016)—Joe Natoli, who guided the University of Miami through a decade of growth with characteristic wisdom and humanity, will be stepping down early next year from his position as senior vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer. After assisting in the search for his successor, he will continue to advise the University as a consultant.

“Joe joined the University after a long and successful career in the newspaper business,” President Julio Frenk said in a message. “During his decade at UM, revenues doubled to more than $2.8 billion, the University’s annual economic impact grew to more than $6 billion, and it maintained an A rating despite significant investment in facilities and programmatic growth. Please join me in thanking Joe for his many years of leadership and dedication to the University and in wishing him the very best in the future.”

“I have been fortunate to work for two of the most influential institutions in South Florida, The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald and for the last decade, the University of Miami,” Natoli said. “It’s been great fun helping a community that I love dearly prosper and become a world-class location in which to live, visit, be educated, and receive the finest health care that academic medicine has to offer.”

A founding board member of the Dolphins Cancer Challenge who the South Florida Business Journal honored as its nonprofit CFO of the Year in 2013, Natoli joined the University in September 2006 after three decades with The Miami Herald’s former parent company, Knight Ridder, Inc.

At the University, he guided the financial health of one of South Florida’s largest private employers, with more than 14,000 faculty and staff and current-year revenues of more than $3 billion. As senior vice president, he oversees accounting and finance, including investing endowment and pension assets, information technology, human resources, supply chain, research administration, risk management, real estate planning and construction, buildings and grounds, campus police, and auxiliaries including the Convocation Center. He led University efforts with the city of Coral Gables that resulted in a 20-year development agreement that included zoning to build The Lennar Foundation Medical Center, which will open later this year on the Coral Gables campus.

From 2013 to 2015, he also served as interim COO of UHealth, the University of Miami Health System, where he was responsible for operations of the University of Miami Hospital, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and the University of Miami Medical Group.

Prior to joining the University, Natoli was chairman and publisher of Knight Ridder’s largest newspapers, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News and previously, president and publisher of the San Jose Mercury News. He joined the University after The McClatchy Company purchased Knight Ridder and divested itself of the Philadelphia papers. But he spent most of his newspaper career in Miami, where he served as controller, vice president of operations, general manager, and president of The Miami Herald, and where his impact on the community and the University is indelible.

An enthusiastic supporter of UM Athletics, Natoli was, along with Athletic’s Tony Hernandez, the first UM administrator to interview then-candidate Jim Larrañaga for head coach of the men’s basketball team. To prepare for the Dolphins Cancer Challenge (DCC), Natoli became an avid cycler, completing the 100-plus mile event and consistently being among the top fundraisers. To date, the DCC has raised $16.5 million for research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

A recipient of the Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews’ Silver Medallion for Humanitarianism, Natoli is also a trustee of the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation Board, which supports student scholarships and academic programs. He has chaired or co-chaired community-wide United Way campaigns in every community in which he has lived and worked—Miami-Dade County, Silicon Valley (San Jose) and Southeastern Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

And although he graduated from the University of South Florida—where he was honored as its Business School Alumnus of the Year—and earned his M.B.A. from Nova Southeastern University, he is a true ’Cane, having been selected for the Iron Arrow Honor Society in 2014.

“I am grateful for the support that I received over the last decade from colleagues throughout the University, particularly the management team and staff in business and finance,” Natoli said. “They are first-class and always put the needs of their customers first. I could not be more proud of the job that they have done.”

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Dolphins Cancer Challenge Unites South Florida in Sylvester’s Fight Against Cancer

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Dolphins Cancer Challenge Unites South Florida in Sylvester’s Fight Against Cancer

Special to UM News

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (February 21, 2016)–With tears in her eyes, Yatta Estelle Bright stood at the finish line of Dolphins Cancer Challenge (DCC) on Saturday waiting for her friends to complete the 5K Run/Walk.

“I lost my husband Etienne to brain cancer just a few months ago,” said Bright, a clinical lab technician in Broward County. “The doctors and staff at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center were wonderful, and I want to tell them how much that support meant to both of us.”

It was one of countless emotional moments at Sun Life Stadium, as thousands of South Floridians whose lives have been touched by cancer came together to honor lost loved ones, celebrate victories over the disease, and raise funds for the leading-edge research taking place every day at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

The day offered something for everyone who wanted to enlist in Sylvester’s fight. The physical challenges included the 5K Run/Walk and a cycling routes ranging from 16 to 100 miles. The stadium grounds were filled with tents and displays offering games for kids, educational handouts for their parents, and water, snacks and massages for participants after they crossed the finish line. High-energy music from the stage inspired many to stop in their tracks and dance. The weather was cool and cloudy with an occasional light sprinkle, but the front moving through South Florida put the wind at cyclists’ backs in the home stretch, and nothing dampened the spirits of the determined cancer fighters.

“This is truly an amazing event,” said UM President Julio Frenk, speaking at the colorful green-and-orange Sylvester tent after the cyclists, runners, and walkers completed their personal journeys. “Cancer is a major health challenge, and a disease that is still stigmatized by some people. Fortunately, we are blessed with one of the leading cancer centers in the world. Our team at Sylvester is committed to delivering the best possible care, along with leading-edge research to conquer this disease.”

His wife, Felicia Knaul, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences, director of the Miami Institute for the Americas, and a breast cancer survivor, expressed her pride and gratitude for being both a member of the UM faculty and a Sylvester patient. “We are bringing the best science out of the laboratory and using it to benefit the entire region,” she said.

Record Participation

The sixth annual DCC – now the largest event fundraiser in the National Football League – set a new record, with 3,317 participants. More than $11.5 million has been raised since the DCC’s inception, and several changes have taken place over the past five years. What began as a two-day riding event called the Dolphins Cycling Challenge has evolved into an even more exciting single-day event called the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, with six course options for riders, a 5K run/walk and a live concert featuring top talent. Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge, both breast cancer survivors, performed Saturday. The inaugural DCC Celebrity Golf Tournament will tee off on Monday, April 4, at the Turnberry Isle Resort and Golf Club, and two Family Fun Fests will take place in the fall.

““The DCC continues to gain momentum, helping to accelerate our groundbreaking cancer research,” said Sylvester Director Stephen D. Nimer, after completing the 100-mile Hurricanes Hundred ride.

“The turnout is great, and this incredible support really makes a difference to our research programs,” said Jonathan C. Trent, professor of medicine and co-director of the Musculoskeletal Center at Sylvester’s Sarcoma Medical Research Program, who rode with his wife, Sharon, and their daughter, Mia.

“Two days ago, one of my closest friends lost her mother to cancer, so she was in my thoughts as I ran,” said Pierre-Jacques Hamard, an associate scientist at Sylvester who in ran in the 5K Run/Walk.

DCC participants ranged from infants to seniors, including more than 700 University of Miami students, faculty, and staffers on Team Hurricane. UM’s new head football coach Mark Richt kicked off the Hurricanes Hundred loop.

“It was wonderful to see all the UM shirts as we rode,” said Joe Natoli, senior vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer, after completing the 100-mile route.

Hundreds of members of the Miami Dolphins organization also took part, including new head coach Adam Gase, President and CEO Tom Garfinkel, EVP and Director of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum, and DCC CEO Michael Mandich, as well as retired star players Dan Marino, Nat Moore, and Kim Bokamper, to name a few.

Other high-profile participants included  Jorge Perez, chairman of The Related Group and Marc Buoniconti, president of The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis and son of former Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti, all UM trustees, and Paul Castronova, co-host of Big 105.9’s “Paul and Young Ron Show.”

There were also plenty of volunteers from throughout South Florida who helped make the DCC a success, including Miami Dade College students Zedre Knox and Lisa Jean Francois.

“My mother Ruth died from breast cancer, and colon cancer took the life of my grandmother,” said Knox. “By volunteering, I can honor their memory.”

Supporting Family Members

JoAnn Goldberg, president of Sylvester’s volunteer Pap Corps, led a contingent of 215 participants from Palm Beach and Broward counties, including Alicia and Larry Kruger.

“My husband was diagnosed with an aggressive form of skin cancer,” said Alicia Kruger. “He received great treatment at Sylvester’s Deerfield Beach center, and I’m walking today on Larry’s behalf.”

A.J. and Casie Maggio completed the 72-mile Perfect Century ride in honor of their nephew Jovani Joseph “JJ” Maggio, who died in 2014 at age 4 from a childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma.

“We need far more research into pediatric cancers,” said A.J. Maggio, who led off more than 15 participants from Sysco Food Services. “We want to support the cancer community and show everyone that we are strong like JJ.”

David Girard and his son, Dominick, were cheering the boy’s stepmother, Donna, and his sisters, Samantha and Sarah, who were cycling, walking, and running in memory of his mother, Yvonne, who died last November in Canada from throat cancer.

“She was treated and thought to be in remission, but her cancer returned,” David Girard said. “We really need to learn more about this disease.”

That’s the fundamental goal of the DCC, according to W. Jarrard Goodwin, Sylvester’s chief medical officer.

“The funds raised by DCC participants and supporters allow us to conduct a wide range of research projects while serving the community,” he said after his 35-mile ride. “Every year, I ride with my patients, colleagues, family, and friends who recognize the importance of the work we do.”

Later in the afternoon, the DCC came to a close with high-energy musical performances by Crow and Etheridge. Their concert celebration was presented by Pepsi on the Seminole Hard Rock Stage at the AutoNation finish line.

Reflecting on the day, Silvio Restrepo paused for a breath after completing the 5K run in memory of his grandmother, Angela Palacios, who died of skin cancer at age 56 in Honduras.

“This was the first time I took part in the DCC, but it won’t be the last,” he said. “It was very special to see so many people cheering as we headed to the finish line. I want to encourage everyone to join me next year.”

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Prepare for Your DCC Ride or Run

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Prepare for Your DCC Ride or Run

DCC.PrepYou’ve signed up, you’ve logged the training hours, and the big day—Saturday, February 20—is right around the corner. Taking on the Dolphins Cancer Challenge (DCC) to raise critical funds for cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center can be both an exciting and a challenging experience. Many of you have spent weeks or maybe even months training for this event. But the most important preparation should happen just days before. Here are a few tips about how best to prepare for the big day.

Seven days out, begin to taper off on your workouts. That week is all about resting your legs to make sure they’re ready to fire on all cylinders. Three days out, get your last good ride or run in. This gives you the confidence you’ll need. Two days out, it’s best to take the day off to store up all the energy you need in your legs. However, feel free to do a light workout the day before— just nothing too strenuous. But remember, save your energy because you’ll need it!

Pre-ride or run jitters often hit the night before, which can cut into your necessary sleep time. This is normal but keep in mind that the DCC is not a race and is meant to be a fun event. One day out, be sure to get enough sleep—a solid eight to 10 hours. This amount of sleep allows you to wake up with more than enough energy to get through the day.

When Saturday arrives, it’s time to fill up the tank. Fueling your body is a major key to success:


Regardless of what time your event starts, it’s wise to eat two to four hours beforehand. Great fuel consists of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, or complex carbohydrates. One to two hours before, eat a light snack such as low-fat yogurt or fruit. And just before you get ready to head out, fuel up with a quick piece of fruit or cup of fruit juice. These simple carbohydrates can give you a quick boost.


Since many will be pushing through a long ride, hydration is very important. Dehydration occurs quickly in the Miami heat and humidity, so fill up on the electrolytes and water throughout the ride and after the run. Another big key is fuel. Be sure to eat at the rest stops, whether it’s fruit, energy gels, cookies— you want to eat something to be sure you don’t hit a lull in your energy while on the road.


The ride or run is complete and you’ve pushed your body to its capacity. All your body wants to do is fill up the energy lost during the workout, so immediately after you finish, it is important to fuel yourself with a good meal. The best time to fuel up is within 15-20 minutes of completing the ride.

Although all these tips are very important to ensure your safety and success during the DCC ride or run, the most important tip to remember is to have fun! The DCC is a great event for participants of all ages to get out there and have a blast for a great cause—raising critical cancer research funds for Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

If you’re still not signed up yet, please visit TeamHurricanes.org.

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