Why I’m Riding to Support Pedal the Cause

By Pat Lappin
Investigative Pathology Lead at Pfizer

I spent Memorial Day weekend this year with a friend who was recently diagnosed with glossal (tongue) squamous cell carcinoma.  I was awed by his progress after an extensive surgical procedure to remove the tumor and his positive outlook for the future.  This week, he’s scheduled to start radiation and chemotherapy, for which his level of optimism for success is very high.  As part of the cancer drug development industry, I’m excited to see him so upbeat, but at the same time feeling somewhat deficient in my ability as part of a team that works to develop cancer therapeutics to help provide him with a better path.  New information, new diagnostic/treatment regimens and new drugs are being identified every day, but advances can be slowed by insufficient funding, particularly in today’s financially constrained society.  While I can’t personally provide my friend an easier road to recovery, I can help drive the continued path forward of education/research/drug development to help eradicate cancer.

Pat LappinRecently, I was made aware of a local event focused on increasing funding for cancer research, 100% of which will remain in San Diego.  Pedal the Cause San Diego is organizing a 2-day cycling event to raise money for cancer research at San Diego’s three renown NCI-designated cancer centers: UC San Diego-Moores Cancer Center, Salk Cancer Center, and Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.  I’ll be participating in this event along with a cadre of Pfizer colleagues and the support of my larger team (the Pfizer organization, an event sponsor), all driven to make cancer a disease of the past.

I’ll admit I love riding my bicycle, but have an equal desire to use every capability I have to help eliminate cancer.  Pedal the Cause San Diego provides me an opportunity to combine these two passions to help make a difference.  I hope to contribute significantly to the Pedal the Cause effort both through physical and fund raising commitments linked to the event.  My physical pledge is to cycle 180 miles in two days, a distance much longer than any I’ve attempted previously, but something that I consider a minimal trial compared to what cancer patients experience every day.  My monetary commitment is to raise as much money as possible (individual and with my Pfizer team) to significantly supplement dwindling cancer research funds so greatly needed to better understand cancer biology, and to help find new medicines to eradicate this disease.


Fundraising can be a daunting challenge, and even cause  anxiety for many.  Getting past the concerns of “I can’t ask people for money” and “Everyone is asked to donate to something all of the time; I’ll be brushed off like most of the others” can be difficult.  My first major attempt to elicit donations was filled with doubts like this, but I quickly learned some techniques to improve my fundraising.  These techniques center around personalization, enthusiasm, and repetitiveness. Here are my top 5 tips:

1) Personalize your involvement and your commitment; stories like the one above keep me focused and others interested.

2) Use stories, share feelings and your personal motivations; prospective donors will be drawn to those personal connections.

3) Use all communication channels available – face-to-face, phone, email, social media, hand-written letters, etc.  Emails are great for mass publication, but be sure to personalize your message.  While I don’t send a unique email or letter to all of my contacts, colleagues, friends and family, Ido try to make it as “individual” as possible.

4) Periodic newsletters are great for updating and keeping your target audience engaged; include training progress/accomplishments, add new personal stories/experiences, reintroduce your goals or share new ones.

5) Most importantly, keep your individual motivation for participation in the Cause visible and current using every tool you can. your enthusiasm will spark others to become actively involved.

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