In 2016, the Department of Human Oncology (DHO) at the Carbone Cancer Center launched The Ride, an annual community bicycling event to raise money for innovative cancer research at the University of Wisconsin.

Deric Wheeler, DHO associate professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, is The Ride’s co-founder and director. He created The Ride as a way to engage the community—patients, loved ones, clinical staff and anyone else touched by cancer—to help fund promising cancer research projects that might not otherwise get funding.

Proceeds from The Ride provide opportunities for researchers to translate discoveries from the lab to the clinic with the goal of improving cancer treatment.

“Moving discoveries from the lab to the clinic is tough to do,” Wheeler says. “But it’s not usually an intellectual issue or a question of will that’s the problem. It’s usually money.”

The Ride funds nascent projects, enabling researchers to generate preliminary data, which could help bring in funding from other sources to further advance the research. It also creates opportunities for scientists to apply their creativity to complex questions, says Dr. Paul Harari, DHO chairman and co-founder of The Ride.

“Scientific discovery depends on systematic progress as well as creativity. You don’t have to look further than our own successes at the University of Wisconsin to find tremendous research advances that came from serendipity, where scientists felt they had the freedom and latitude to explore new ideas and exercise creativity,” Harari says. “When funding rates are low—like they are now—scientists tend to hold back their creativity and stay in the mainstream for fear of jeopardizing their funding. The Ride provides funding that enables scientists to use their creativity to find ways to improve the lives of cancer patients.”

Thanks to generous support from sponsors, 100 percent of the money raised goes directly to cancer research. In its inaugural year, The Ride raised more than $150,000, which has been awarded to support six projects on a competitive basis. With your help, we can reach this year’s goal of $500,000.

With five bike routes to choose from—3, 15, 31, 62 and 100 miles—The Ride offers cyclists of all abilities the chance to enjoy the beautiful Wisconsin countryside while supporting advances in cancer research that will likely improve treatment and save lives. If you are not able to ride, please consider supporting The Ride by donating or volunteering.

The Ride will take place on Sept. 17. It begins and ends at the Prairie Lakes Shopping Center in Sun Prairie, Wis. Register Now to join The Ride for Life.