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Inspired by Cancer Thrivers, BfC Digs Deep Into the Happy Hurt Locker, Wins the Dana Point Grand Prix

Dana Point Grand PrixThey've done it again. Another clean sweep of the podium by the Breakaway from Cancer masters racing team, but this time, it was personal.

"I had a chance to meet this young boy Tyler Cordova before the race," said Steve Strickler, beaming with pride after winning a hard-fought race.. "He had this big smile on his face. He told me had had over 10 surgeries but recently he got some very good news -- that his Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was in remission. I was so happy that he was so happy that I was a chin quiver away from bursting out with tears of joy. "

"In the race I kept thinking how lucky I was to have the privilege of being able to suffer on my terms. To win a big race, you have to want to go deep into that hurt locker if you want to come out the winner. It's ironic, but to do your best you have to be ready put your body through the ringer -- pain is simply the price winners have to pay," Strickler explained, struggling for the words. "My suffering was nothing compared to what this young champion Tyler has had to endure - that ugly, involuntary, stupid pain that only seems to beget more pain, with no reward. I kept telling myself that young Tyler would love to have the chance to experience that good kind of cathartic suffering."

dana point grand prixJust as it took a team of front line doctors, benchwork scientists, caregivers, drug companies, friends and especially family to give 10 year old Tyler a fighting chance to break away from Cancer, it took a team effort to launch Strickler to victory. From the gun, BfC took control of the race, attacking repeatedly in the effort to wear down the field. When the peloton began stretching thin, BfC teammates Thurlow Rogers and Strickler sensed the moment and busted off the front, gaining a quick ten second advantage.

Every racer dreams of breaking away, just as every cancer patient dreams of breaking clear of cancer's ugly grip. But for a breakaway to succeed, it takes a combination of team tactics, individual grit, and luck. Strickler and Rogers, a 1984 Olympian, began working in tandem off the front, expertly shaving the corners and efficiently taking turns at the point in the wind.

Meanwhile, in the peloton, the BfC boys were stuffing the corners, chasing down bridge attempts, and stifling fledgling efforts by the other teams to mount a serious chase. Finally, with three laps remaining in the six turn, .9 mile course in beautiful downtown Dana Point, the peloton accepted its fate that on this day this breakaway was just too strong and too motivated. They conceded and turned their attention to winning the field sprint for third.

Roger WorthingtonUp the road, as Strickler and Thurlow ramped down the home stretch to the finish line, the only question among these two long time friends and warriors was who was going to get the win. Each magnanimously braked for the other but in a "photo finish" the camera gave Strickler the edge. When a team races together as a team, each member gets to share the glory.

Teammate Roger Worthington, too, found motivation in the heroic pursuit for more life by those courageous men and women stricken with cancer. The previous night, the Pacific Meso Center and Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer sponsored a fundraiser for cancer research and awareness. Several mesothelioma patients, although hurting, overcame the pain and inconvenience to travel to the Dana Point Yacht Club to support the noble cause. Worthington was moved by the resiliency, faith, hope and optimism of these brave souls for whom quitting was never an option.

Worthington attacked with two turns to go and rode in for third, completing the clean sweep by Breakaway from Cancer. The entire Breakaway from Cancer team dedicated the win to Tyler Cordova and mesothelioma survivors Terry Latham (Dana Point), Jacob Jager (San Clemente), Bob Vitale (Palos Verdes), Geno Stirone (Mission Viejo), David Theobold and Nasseem Faraq.

dana point grand prixThe BfC masters racing team wishes to thank Amgen, the City of Dana Point and the Pacific Meso Center for putting on a wonderful weekend. The highlight of day, however, was not winning the race. Instead, it was walking in solidarity with young Tyler as well as several mesothelioma patients down the home stretch across the finish line as thousands of fans cheered in support. For the record, Strickler, who walked with the survivors, did not let Tyler cross the finish line in first -- our young hero gutted up and took it!

5/4/2011

PS. We're still counting, but so far it looks like the Breakaway from Cancer gala raised just south of $50,000 for the evening. Thank you! Trickle down philanthropy is alive and well in Dana Point! Heartwarming to note that the biggest donors were cancer survivors and family members.

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