Like many people, Mercer Island’s Hayley Duitch has watched friends and family members struggle with cancer. “I want to be part of finding a cure,” she said.
Through fundraising, Duitch has forged a partnership with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle that allows to her help the world-renowned institution accelerate cancer research.
“I’m not a scientist,” she said. “I’m just a normal person who doesn’t want anyone to have to go through it.”
This August, Duitch, a business consultant, will ride in her 5th Obliteride, an annual bike ride with a big goal: to cure cancer faster.
The first year she rode in memory of a family friend who died of brain cancer. Now, the bike she rides is covered with names. “Some are survivors others have passed. All have fought in ways I did not know was possible,” said Duitch. “It breaks my heart and I just want to find a cure so I can stop adding names.”
Duitch is drawn to the fact that 100% of the money she raises through Obliteride goes to Fred Hutch. Her passion drives her to get creative and think outside the box. She chuckles about actually getting in the box one time. “Last year, I worked from a box for two hours to get donations. It was pretty hilarious!”
Duitch is also enthusiastic about recruiting new team members to ride with her. “I don’t want to force people to do it,” Duitch said with a grin, “but I definitely think, at a very minimum, 25 miles isn’t that hard.” Obliteride has four routes, ranging from 25 to 150 miles.
Obliteride is much more than a bike ride. Riders are treated to a fun party at Gas Works Park to kick off the weekend. “It’s a weekend of live entertainment, fantastic food from Tom Douglas Catering and beer from Elysian Brewing,” said Mark Grantor, Obliteride’s operations manager. “We have very generous sponsors, like University Village, that make it possible for us to give our riders a first-class experience.”
While Duitch enjoys the celebration and camaraderie at Obliteride, she says her fondest memories are riding with her dad. “Regardless of who we recruit, each year my dad and I do Obliteride together,” she Duitch. “Not only are we raising money with a goal to cure cancer, but we get to spend time together riding bikes outside. It is like being a kid again and I enjoy every single minute.”
To date, Duitch, and other Obliteride riders have raised more than $9 million for Fred Hutch. She doesn’t have a medical degree or a Ph.D. But what she does have is a contagious passion. In partnership with an organization that channels passion into cures, that’s all it takes.
Join Fred Hutch’s Obliteride
Obliteride is August 11-13, 2017. To learn more or to register to ride, volunteer or donate, go to Obliteride.org.
You can also donate directly to Duitch’s ride here.
Adapted from a story by Susan Keown / Fred Hutch News Service.