By Kristina Houck
A two-time cancer survivor, Bill Koman is committed to finding a cure. He founded Pedal the Cause, an annual cycling event that provides funding for cancer research in St. Louis, and now he is launching another cycling event that will support cancer research in San Diego.
“I didn’t want to be passive and hope it goes away,” said Koman, president of the Koman Group, a real estate company. “I decided that I needed to take a more active approach so people won’t have to go through this in the future. So we’re raising funds for cancer research in the Midwest and now out here in San Diego.”
First diagnosed with lymphoma in 2004, Koman, a St. Louis native, was treated at Siteman Cancer Center and underwent chemotherapy and radiation. The cancer returned the next year, and after more rigorous treatments and a bone marrow transplant, he has been cancer-free since 2006.
After beating cancer for the second time, Koman wanted to give back to the place that saved his life and ensure that others treated at the facility would have the same outcome.
He founded Pedal the Cause in 2009 with the goal that 100 percent of the funds raised through the organization would stay in St. Louis and benefit Siteman Cancer Center and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. In its first year, the event attracted 800 riders, 300 volunteers and raised roughly $950,000. Last year, in its third year, 1,800 riders raised $2.2 million.
“Having people that you know and care about at the finish line cheering for you is great,” said Koman, who participates every year. “It’s also great knowing what you’re doing for the institutions that you’re benefitting.”
Pedal the Cause in San Diego will offer one- and two-day riding options with several courses of varying length, and take place Oct. 26-27, between La Jolla and Julian. Proceeds will benefit UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and the Salk Institute – three institutions that recently joined forces to further cancer research under the name San Diego National Cancer Institute Cancer Centers Council.
“The dollars stay in this community, which is really important, and I think the collaboration between the three institutions is really unique,” said Koman, who now lives in San Diego and serves as chairman of UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center Board. The Pedal the Cause office is based in Solana Beach.
“If you’re going to be treated for cancer, do you want to be travelling around the country, or would you rather be able to go in your backyard and have world-class treatments and results where you don’t have to pack up and leave? I think it’s a huge advantage that people in San Diego can have world-class care in their community.”
For more information and to register for Pedal the Cause, visit sandiego.pedalthecause.org.