By Deb Silverthorn
Riders and donors are getting stoked — and spoked — for the ’21 Wheel to Survive event to support the Be the Difference Foundation. The spinning takes place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, at the Loft at Gilley’s, and proceeds raised support the awareness of and research for a cure for ovarian cancer.
“Nothing’s going to stop us from stopping ovarian cancer or from helping the women and their families in the throes of this horrible disease,” said Jeff Seutter, who with his wife, Lisa, is co-chairing this year’s Wheel to Survive. “I watched my sister-in-law, my wife and our whole family cope with the fight against ovarian cancer, and we are committed to helping other families.”
The Seutters connected with the Be The Difference Foundation after Lisa’s sister, Tara Frost, died of ovarian cancer at 45.
“We’re here, we are going to ride and we are going to make a difference — a lot of difference,” said Lisa.
The 2020 ride, held just before most in-person activities were shut down due to the pandemic, raised a record $326,000. Last November, the organization’s Runway to Hope raised more than $37,000, and the month before that, a virtual ride in Houston raised another $10,000.
While the ride was moved from its usual spot on the February calendar, this year’s postponement has served well.
“September is Ovarian Cancer Month and we’re on for a safe, fun and convenient-for-all day. Eight months ago, we were deeper in the pandemic and likely would’ve been in the midst of the freezing storms,” said board president Lynn Lentscher, one of the founders of Be the Difference Foundation and a 23-year survivor of ovarian cancer. The other founders are Jill Bach, Julie Shrell and Helen Gardner of blessed memory.
“When I was sick, I prayed that I’d live and I prayed that if I did live, I’d know my purpose,” Lentscher said. “This, is my purpose.”
Serving on the board with Lentscher are Atila Ali, Bach, Linda Bezner, Jennifer Cawlfield, Tom Colven, Charlie Donner, Gary Gardner, Marissa Kaufman, Shrell and Sheryl Yonack.
At press time, 92 riders have registered and raised $96,102.40 of the $300,000 goal for the ride. Organizers will follow COVID-19 safety guidelines and bikes will be spaced apart.
The Be the Difference Foundation has raised more than $4.5 million since it began. In 2020, the organization disbursed nearly $200,000 to the Clearity Foundation, Lazarex Cancer Foundation, Mary Crowley Cancer Research, MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Health Science Center San Antonio.
Mary Crowley Cancer Research, based at Medical City Dallas, conducts innovative clinical trials for current patients, and estimates that the foundation has helped support close to 120 ovarian cancer patients for enrollment in trials since 2014.
“Our trials and our clinic, all of which address solid tumors, didn’t shut down for a minute in all these months, we just haven’t stopped, and we don’t intend to. Because our doors were open, we actually have more trials this year than at this time last year,” said Deborah Montonen, vice president and chief development officer for the organization. “We’re constantly enrolling new patients in our trials, connecting doctors and patients, meeting protocols.”
The Lazarex Cancer Foundation provides support to cancer patients, and was created by Dana Dornsife in memory of her brother-in-law, Mike, who lived four years after a cancer diagnosis. Since 2006, Lazarex has been devoted to patient advocacy and the expansion of available resources on behalf of those cancer patients who’ve been told there are no more medical options.
Lazarex reimburses patients and a companion, for trial and treatment-related expenses. Monies from Be the Difference Foundation underwrote the equivalent of 168 round trips of gas, tolls and parking in 2020 for trips to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. New opportunities are set to begin soon at Dallas’ UT Southwestern Hospital
The 2021 experience means anyone, anywhere, can participate be it on two-wheels on-site — or around the world on roller skates, unicycles, or by pulling a little red wagon.
“Wheel to Survive, this our ninth ride, is going to be a great experience,” said Be the Difference Executive Director Jon Mize. “We’re setting up for a cycling party on the dance floor, outdoors or wherever you want it to be, however you want it to be. We just hope you’ll be there.”
Register for the 2021 Wheel to Survive at wheeltosurvive.org. For more information about Be The Difference Foundation, or to make a donation, visit bethedifferencefoundation.org
Early detection of ovarian cancer is essential to a better prognosis. If any of these symptoms last for more than two weeks, please contact your doctor.