Lori Grassi beat cancer three times and she has 28 friends who’ve died of cancer but she’s still brimming with hope.
Grassi, a 52-year-old Tacoma resident, is one of more than 900 cyclists participating in the Aug. 9-10 Obliteride on the roads between Seattle and Tacoma. The cyclists are raising money for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
In its second year, Obliteride is quickly gaining a reputation for spoiling its riders with food and entertainment, ride director Mark Grantor says 100 percent of all donations go to cancer research. (The $100-150 registration fee paid by each cyclist couple and sponsorships go to stage the event.)
“That is the most important thing to me,” Grassi said. “I want to participate in something that might help find a cure for, at least, some of the common cancers.”
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Grassi survived breast, cervical and ovarian cancer and has been cancer-free for 13 years. But she was stunned when she started making a list of friends who’ve died of cancer. He came up with 28 friends she will ride for.
When Obliteride started last year she was quick to sign up, joining a team (The Obliterati) based out of Tacoma’s Old Town Bicycle shop. The minimum fundraising requirement for Obliteride’s longest ride is $1,975. Each of the four members of the Obliterati raised at least $5,000, Grassi said. So far this year the team has combined to raise more than $7,500.
In total, the 2013 ride raised $1.9 million, Grantor said.
The ride isn’t easy. The two-day 150-mile route will climb nearly 12,000 feet on Bainbridge Island and the Kitsap Peninsula before reaching the University of Puget Sound. After spending the night at the college, where riders will be entertained with a concert by the Paper Boys, they will return to Seattle on the east side of Puget Sound.
Organizers hope people will visit the course to cheer on the riders.
There are also 25-, 50-, and 100-mile routes Sunday, Aug.10. The 25- and 50-mile rides are designed to be easier and accessible to more riders.
But the longer rides are tough. The way it should be if you ask Grassi.
“It is hard, but it is not as hard as it sounds,” Grassi said. “It’s harder to burry somebody than it is to ride hills.”
Grassi and Grantor say most riders are nervous about the fundraising obligation. The minimum fundraising obligation is $1,000 for the 25-mile ride.
But Grassi says the fundraising actually is quite easy because almost everybody has been impacted by cancer.
Riders can register for the ride up until the start of the event. They have until Sept. 30 to raise money.
Riders can expect to be well fed (catered meals) by more than 700 volunteers. And they’ll also be entertained. Michael Franti is performing at a kickoff party on Thursday, Aug. 8, and three local contestants from the NBC show “The Voice” will perform at the finish area on Sunday, Aug. 10.