Funds will support groundbreaking studies aimed
at preventing, treating and curing cancer.
A record 3,800 participants who turned out for the seventh annual UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge raised more than $1 million to support cancer research at the UCI Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and its pediatric affiliate, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).
The Oct. 7 event surpassed the million-dollar mark for a second consecutive year, thanks to the unwavering support of patients, their loved ones, caregivers, scientists and community members who came together to ride bikes, run and walk to fight cancer.
The UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge community previously had raised more than $3.7 million, funding a remarkable 100 groundbreaking pilot projects and early phase clinical trials with the potential to revolutionize the future of cancer diagnosis, treatment and care.
In turn, these innovative research efforts have attracted $33.3 million in federal grants and other external support.
“Reaching 100 funded projects is a significant milestone in our ongoing battle against cancer, said challenger founder Richard A. Van Etten, MD, PhD, director of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center based in Orange County.
“With the substantial funds raised this year, we aim to amplify our impact and drive innovation further in cancer prevention, treatment and cures for individuals in Orange County and beyond.”
Van Etten, UCI Health CEO Chad T. Lefteris and UCI School of Medicine Dean Michael J. Stamos, MD, helped kick-off race-day festivities in Aldrich Park at the heart of the University of California, Irvine campus. Activities included 5K and 10K run/walks, bicycle routes ranging from 14 to 100 miles, and the event’s first mountain bike ride traversing Crystal Cove State Park.
Other offerings included a wellness festival and a UCI Health pavilion offering community health education. Entertainment was provided by the Anaheim Ducks Street Team as well as live musical performances.
KTLA Orange County Bureau Chief Chip Yost returned for a second year to host the opening ceremony, setting an upbeat tone for a memorable day of inspiration and dedication. Highlights included the 2023 Patient and Physician awards ceremony.
Patient honoree Jim Madrid, executive vice president of McCarthy Building Companies Inc., was recognized for his advocacy for skin cancer awareness. He spoke to the world-class care he received at UCI Health and the critical importance of early detection in saving lives.
Physician honoree James G. Jakowatz, MD, was celebrated for his notable 38-year career at UCI Health. Under his leadership, the UCI Health Melanoma Center has become one of the leading centers for melanoma diagnosis and treatment on the West Coast.
Since its inception in 2017, the UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge has been possible because of the unwavering support of corporate sponsors, who generously underwrite event costs, ensuring that 100% of participant contributions go directly toward groundbreaking research.
The 2023 corporate sponsors include Club Studio, LA Fitness, the Kay Family Foundation, the Anaheim Ducks, the Honda Center and Pacific Rim Mechanical. Another major sponsor is Hensel Phelps, general contractor for UCI Health — Irvine, a medical complex under construction in Irvine that includes the new Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ambulatory building, which will open to patients in summer 2024.
Partners in Research — individuals, teams and corporations that raise or donate $50,000 or more to the UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge — also played a vital role in the event’s success. The 2023 Partners in Research include Team Answer for Cancer, Monster Energy Cares, Hensel Phelps, Lynn Capouya Inc. and Team Michelle.
Ronit Benjamin, the event’s executive council chair and top fundraising team co-captain, praised all who made the 2023 challenge a resounding success.
“Being a part of the UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge for the last six years has touched my heart deeply,” said Benjamin. “I hope everyone understands the importance of the impact we are making for all those battling cancer in our community. Every contribution, big or small, influences our shared future.”
Fundraising efforts continued throughout the end of October. Interested donors can still support cancer research at anti-cancerchallenge.org as well as learn how to participate in the eighth annual UCI AntiCancer Challenge on Oct. 5, 2024.