Overcoming fundraising fear easy compared to cancer

Craig.hill@thenewstribune.comJune 23, 2013 

Tory Grant, right, and Mark Grantor ride a section of the Obliteride course near Browns Point. Grant has raised more than $5,000 for cancer research while training for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s new ride set for Aug. 9-11.


Think it sounds intimidating to bike 180 miles and promise to raise almost $2,000 with nothing but your credit card as a safety net?

You’re not alone. There was a time when such challenges might have caused Tory Grant to be at least a little hesitant.

But, right now, the manager of Tacoma’s Old Town Bicycle has a different perspective on what’s hard and what’s easy.

The first time you take your sick wife to an appointment in a building with the word cancer on the wall, he says, “trust me ... it can be very intimidating.”

So, when Grant heard about Obliteride, a new organized ride designed to raise money for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, he knew what he had to do.

There are several ways to participate in the Aug. 9-11 Obliteride, depending on how far you want to ride (25-180 miles). The farther you ride, the higher the registration fee ($100-$150) and the fundraising commitment ($1,000-$1,975).

Grant didn’t just sign up for the highest level, he set a goal of doubling the fundraising minimum. As of press time, he was on the cusp of tripling the minimum.

Grant is riding in honor of his wife, Sara, and Bob Cox, a mentor who died of thyroid cancer.

Sara had been sick for months and undergone a barrage of tests before her doctors sent her to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, a treatment center utilizing doctors from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington Medicine and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Doctors there found Sara had a tumor where her thyroid should be.

As scary as the news was, Grant says he and his wife are grateful for the care she’s receiving. “Sara is still continuing her fight, but every day is better,” Grant wrote on his obliteride.org fundraising page. “Every day we are closer.”

His wife’s illness came just two years after his mentor’s death. In 1985, Grant was matched with Cox in Thurston County’s Big Brothers program.

“He was the kindest man who has ever existed,” Grant wrote. “... Since that match in 1985, he taught me so many things. Most of all, the importance of being a good person. When he passed, I wanted to honor him somehow, yet I couldn’t find the proper avenue. I resolved to someday give in his name.”

Obliteride became the way.

Sure, raising $1,975 (the year The Hutch was founded) wouldn’t be easy, but Grant figured if he got creative, he could pull it off.

Grant called local businesses, wrote personalized emails to friends and family and committed to giving donors a cartoon drawing of themselves. (Grant minored in art at Colorado’s Western State College.)

In the first two days, Grant raised $2,500.

I recently met Grant and Obliteride event manager Mark Grantor to ride a section of the course between Browns Point and Des Moines. As we pedaled up and down hills with beautiful views, I asked Grantor if he thought the fundraising requirements were scaring some people off.

He said, indeed, he does hear from people who think the fundraising minimum is a hill too high to climb.

Sometimes Grantor tells them about Grant, but he says their fears typically are put to rest when he passes on three bits of information.

First, he says, “100 percent of the money donated goes directly to cancer research.” The cost for staging the ride is covered by the registration fee and ride sponsors.

Second, the event website offers individual fundraising pages for collecting donations and advice for overcoming the fear of asking for money.

Third, participants get almost two months after the ride to finish collecting funds.

The cause is destined to turn Obliteride into a rolling celebration of survivors, deceased loved ones and caregivers.

Seattle’s Magnuson Park will be the site of a two-day finisher festival with live music, food and games. While the 25-, 50- and 100-mile riders will finish Aug. 10 (Aug. 9 is a kickoff party with no rides scheduled), Grantor said two-day riders are in for a special treat.

After pedaling 108 miles the first day, riders will spend the night at the University of Puget Sound.

At UPS, there will be a community party with musical acts whom Grantor isn’t yet authorized to announce. On the morning of Aug. 11, the riders will leave together, pedaling at a moderate pace to Browns Point while escorted by the Tacoma Police Department and the Washington State Patrol.

“It will be really cool,” Grantor said. “You’ll feel like you’re in the peloton of a major road race.”

Grantor hopes to have about 250 participants in the two-day ride and wants to see that number continue to grow in the future.

The two-day riders also will get to enjoy what Grantor calls “easily the most scenic part of Obliteride.” This is the rolling section along Puget Sound north of Browns Point that includes a rest stop at Redondo Beach.

“I’m super excited about the ride,” Grant said. “It’s the perfect mix of hilly and flat, and we’ll ride on some beautiful roads.”

But as much as Grant likes where he’ll ride, he’s most excited about why he’ll ride. “This is just a great way to give back.”

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497 Craig.hill@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure

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