Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Fireflies West connects an international community of entertainment and advertising executives who cycle 630 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness for City of Hope Hospital. City of Hope is a research and treatment center dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of cancer and other life-threatening illnesses guided by a compassionate patient-centered philosophy.
Over the last decade, nearly 250 participating Fireflies West riders, along with a supporting volunteer network, and over 30 industry sponsors, have raised close to $2,000,000 to date for City of Hope.
The ride began on October 4 in Mill Valley, 60 Fireflies West riders (the biggest group to date) will cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and then traverse the rugged, winding roads down the coastline between San Francisco and Los Angeles for seven days. The riders will average 100 miles per day. The riders will be welcomed home on October 10 with an arrivals celebration at 72andSunny agency.
Every dollar goes directly to City of Hope without any administration costs, ensuring that every tax-deductible donation goes directly to fighting cancer. Moreover, the annual riders fund their own way and expenses out of their own pocket, a reflection of their incredibly generous spirits. Through stamina, friendship, sheer will and spirited volunteerism, the Fireflies West rides on.
Here are just some of the reasons that motivates and moves riders:
“The truth is, the dire battle with cancer is an experience that hits very close to home for me, having had immediate family and friends survive or lose the battle over the course of my life. Some were treated at City of Hope,” says Damian Stevens, managing director of Arcade. “There was no question that I wanted to contribute to the betterment of those affected, and as an avid cyclist Fireflies West provided an opportune platform. I’ll never forget the first Fireflies ride years ago, a bonding experience with friends and strangers alike that touched me in a way I never expected — heightening my awareness and perspective on how deeply impactful the disease is, how precious life is and how everyone is interconnected to the battle in some way. Part of my own process of healing and providing healing to others was to ask donors for a name of someone affected by cancer that I can include in a list, which I then folded up and placed in my bike jersey pocket every single day of the ride, adding names as more donations came through. In my mind, it provided an incredible sense of togetherness, unifying those affected, including myself, spiritually and experientially and reminding us all that we are not alone. I’m inspired by a possibility of a cure, and will continue to contribute to that possibility in any way that I can.”
“I’ve been cycling since I was in college, and I’m 52 now. I have a lot of miles under my belt. I always rode because I could, because I loved it, and if we raised money that was cool too,” explains Michael Raimondi, president/managing partner of Union Editorial. “Last year I ‘angeled’ — rode in the back with a cyclist who needed help. Turned out he had been cancer free for six months and wanted to ride with us to see if he could do it. I told him he was in inspiration and he said, ‘I didn’t set out to be an inspiration, I just didn’t want to die.’ Riding was an affirmation that he was alive. I’ve participated in seven out of the last 10 years of Fireflies West including the first one, but it was during the ride last year that my passion for cycling was overshadowed by a true and deep appreciation for the ride’s mission. I can ride in the front and I did a lot, but we have a saying, ‘the real ride is in the back.’ I never understood that until last year. I’m looking forward to riding in the back again this year.”
For Bill Sewell, co-founder of Wiredrive, “Riding smooths out the rough edges of my day. Riding with the Fireflies lets me do what I love with people I both admire and enjoy being around. Riding from SF to LA to help raise money to fight cancer brings us together with a sense of purpose that is bigger than us. I seldom stumble into communities that change me. I’m so glad I found the Fireflies.
“Four years ago, I did not own a bike,” he continues. “After attending several Fireflies arrival parties, I simply could not get my head around how these 40+ men and women could ride so far for so long… and I told them that. In 2013, some wonderful Firefly suggested I buy a bike and join for the Guest Day ride. That idea was like a light switch turning on — it made everything easier and less overwhelming. I bought that bike and two days later was riding up to the top of Mandeville Canyon. I was one of the last ones to reach the gate, encouraged by the whole group clapping and cheering me on. That day, I knew I had found my people. I rode that Guest Day and went on to complete both the West Coast ride in 2014 and the European ride in 2016. Riding smooths out the rough edges of my day. Riding with the Fireflies lets me do what I love with people I both admire and enjoy being around. Riding from SF to LA to help raise money to fight cancer brings us together with a sense of purpose that is bigger than us. I seldom stumble into communities that change me. I’m so glad I found the Fireflies.”
City of Hope is a leading research and treatment center dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of cancer and other life-threatening illnesses guided by a compassionate patient-centered philosophy. City of Hope developed the technology behind four of the world’s most widely used drugs to fight cancer: Drugs like Herceptin, Avastin, Rituxan and Erbitux that are used worldwide to fight and treat cancer. City of Hope has the best overall outcome of any US treatment center for leukemia and other blood cancers. They have successfully performed more than 11,000 stem cell transplants, among the highest in the nation. Even though City of Hope patients are the sickest, they survive the longest.
Want to get involved? You can find out more at http://www.fireflieswest.com.