UM partners with the Miami Dolphins Organization to raise funds for cancer research

Instructor Guido Milian leads a class during the Team Hurricanes Dolphins Challenge Cancer Cycle Sesh at the Lakeside Patio on Feb. 24, 2022.
Instructor Guido Milian leads a class during the Team Hurricanes Dolphins Challenge Cancer Cycle Sesh at the Lakeside Patio on Feb. 24, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

With over $75 million donated to cancer research, the Miami Dolphins Organization stands as one of the most high-impact fundraisers for cancer research in Florida. As a part of their Dolphins Challenge Cancer (DCC) event that began 12 years ago, the Miami Dolphins have fundraised through interactive cycling events, which have been conducted across the greater South Florida area.

At the undergraduate campus, Team Hurricanes held “Cycle Sesh: Cycling Through the Decades,” an outdoor cycling event where interested students, faculty and staff could donate to participate in the outdoor spin class. Students paid $15 for the initial “session,” which was a 30-minute spin routine that began with music from the 1980s.

Participants could then donate $5 for each additional session. Faculty and staff donated $25 to participate in the first session and $5 for every additional session.

Sebastian the Ibis throws up the U as he participates in the Team Hurricanes Dolphins Challenge Cancer Cycle Sesh at the Lakeside Patio on Feb. 24, 2022.
Sebastian the Ibis throws up the U as he participates in the Team Hurricanes Dolphins Challenge Cancer Cycle Sesh at the Lakeside Patio on Feb. 24, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Each half-hour session featured music from a different decade, including the 1980s, 90s, all the way up to today’s latest hits. All proceeds were ultimately donated to the DCC and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a prominent South Florida cancer research and treatment center which is a part of the UHealth network.

“The DCC began twelve years ago with one goal in mind: to unite the community against one of the most insidious diseases of our generation — Cancer,” said Tom Garfinkel, the CEO of the Miami Dolphins, in an official statement on the Dolphins Challenge Cancer Website. “We rallied to raise awareness and resources in the name of Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich and so many others.”

Mandich served as a tight end for the Miami Dolphins — a hybrid of an offensive lineman and a wide receiver — between 1970-1977. After concluding his football career, he went on to work as an expert commentator for the Miami Dolphins and hosted a Miami local a.m. sports talk show.

In early 2010, Mandich was diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma, a cancer of the bile duct. That fall, he returned to the broadcast booth for his final game-day commentary before passing away.

Over 18 million people worldwide were diagnosed with cancer as of 2020, with that number only growing during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the American Cancer Society. In Miami-Dade County, public health data shows an instance of 397.1 cases per 100,000 residents, with the state of Florida experiencing the second highest cancer burden in the country.

Many participants, including instructors, were optimistic that fundraiser events like these could make a difference in finding a cure for the disease.

“It’s very important for me obviously because we need to fund the research,” Guido Milian, an instructor at the Department of Wellness and Recreation, who helped lead one of the spin sessions during the event, said.“We can definitely find a cure for the disease. We need to put a little more forward into that – these kinds of events mark a big difference in time, and they definitely help.”

Student organizations were also able to participate in the event, with the student org having the most member signups on Engage receiving $500. One such member was Roy Carrillo Zamora, a freshman majoring in legal studies and business analytics.

Raffle prizes, including signed Dolphins memorabilia, Adidas gear and one week of priority parking on campus sit on a display table during the Team Hurricanes Dolphins Challenge Cancer Cycle Sesh at the Lakeside Patio on Feb. 24, 2022.
Raffle prizes, including signed Dolphins memorabilia, Adidas gear and one week of priority parking on campus sit on a display table during the Team Hurricanes Dolphins Challenge Cancer Cycle Sesh at the Lakeside Patio on Feb. 24, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

“I always forget how hard spinning can be and today was a reminder, but it was great all the way through,” Zamora said. “I feel that the activities that student orgs do are very academic, [but]these types of activities are more social and they’re really important to create bonds between the participants.”

The sessions ran until 10 p.m., and concluded with music.