Every year, the Dolphins Cancer Challenge (DCC), the Miami Dolphins’ signature fundraising event, attracts thousands to ride, run, and walk to fight cancer. The tenth annual DCC drew a record-breaking 3,921 participants on February 29, 2020, and raised $6.2 million for cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, the highest amount in DCC history.
More than 230 cancer survivors participated in the day’s events, adding to the hope and strength of the crowd. Firefighters from around the nation showed up in bunker gear in support of Sylvester’s Firefighter Cancer Initiative, a moving tribute to those who have been lost amongst their ranks as cancer continues to be the leading health concern in the firefighting profession today. Key community partners and leadership from across the University of Miami and UHealth were also in full attendance.
“I could not be prouder to be a participant in a program that the Miami Dolphins have spearheaded for 10 solid years,” said Stuart Miller, executive chairman of Lennar Corporation, a UM Trustee and chair of the UHealth Board of Directors. “As corporations in our community, we should all participate. Solving important issues only happens if we band together.”
Miller has been involved in the event since its inception and leads an impressive company-wide initiative at Lennar for DCC involvement. A cycling enthusiast, he is among the event’s Heavy Hitter fundraisers and rises early every morning to hop on his bike and condition year-round for the Hurricane Hundred, a strenuous 100-mile ride.
A decade of the DCC ended in spectacular fashion, with a total of $39.2 million raised for life-saving cancer research at Sylvester. Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., the director of Sylvester, the Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, and professor of medicine, biochemistry & molecular biology at the Miller School, took the stage after completing the Hurricane Hundred, along with three members of the Sylvester Board of Governors, Eric Feder, Craig Robins, and John Elwaw.
“There was great camaraderie throughout the day, making this the best DCC yet,” said Dr. Nimer. “With the support of our community, we have been able to cure an ever-increasing number of patients with cancer and develop new more effective approaches to preventing cancer.”
The funds raised by the DCC have directly supported cancer research and critical studies, making new treatments possible that have positively impacted, and even saved, lives. The support of the DCC helped Sylvester achieve the prestigious National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation in 2019, raising the cancer center’s research and patient care to a whole new level of excellence.
As an organization that is accustomed to pushing the limits, the Miami Dolphins took their dedication to fighting cancer to the next level in 2020. At a news conference held at the Hard Rock Stadium, the Dolphins announced a transformational $75 million gift commitment to Sylvester, along with a new name to usher in the next decade of what has become the NFL’s #1 team fundraising event.
What began as the Dolphins Cycling Challenge in 2010 is now known as the Dolphins Challenge Cancer. While the mission remains the same, the organization is adopting a “one team, one fight” mentality that will further build on the Dolphins’ year-round promise to support cancer research at Sylvester.
“The DCC began 10 years ago with one goal in mind: to unite the community against one of the most insidious diseases of our generation,” said Tom Garfinkel, vice chairman, president and CEO of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium. “In our first decade, the DCC raised more than $39.2 million for innovative cancer research at Sylvester. As we look to the next 10 years of impact, we realize it is time for us to evolve from an event into a year-round movement focused on the challenge the cancer community faces every day.”
In a dramatic moment, Dr. Nimer asked everybody in the audience who has either had cancer, or been touched by a loved one who has had cancer, to stand. Not one person in the room remained seated.
“This is why we DCC,” Dr. Nimer said. “This incredible partnership with the Miami Dolphins has supported vitally important research at Sylvester for a decade. We are extremely grateful for this renewed pledge to continue working side by side in pursuit of new cancer cures.”