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More than 3,300 runners and walkers, cyclists and volunteers convened at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday to celebrate the 11th annual Dolphins Challenge Cancer event for cancer research.
The event raised more than $5.4 million for the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami, in conjunction with the $75 million commitment the Miami Dolphins pledged to the organization last November for a year-round effort toward the cause.
“This is a group of people in this community in South Florida that have come together to fight a disease that affects everybody,” said Tom Garfinkel, vice chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium, who raised more than $52,000 for the event himself.
“If it hasn’t affected you personally yourself, it’s affected someone you love or someone you know. This is really about bringing the community together to fight cancer.”
Attendees rode bicycles from 15, 35, 50 to 100 miles, while others ran or walked a 5K, with the finish line in the plaza area of Hard Rock Stadium.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who is preparing his third NFL draft with the franchise later this month, greeted participants with fist bumps and placed metals around their necks at the finish line.
Flores has always been fond of the event during his time as Dolphins coach, particularly when he shared during the event in 2019 his mother, Maria, passed away due to cancer shortly after he was hired.
Several current Dolphins players like backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, outside linebacker Vince Biegel, defensive tackle Raekwon Davis, receiver Kirk Merritt, defensive end Tyshun Render participated in the 15-mile ride.
Dolphins offensive lineman Jesse Davis participated in the 5K, while defensive tackle John Jenkins rode his bike for 50 miles.
Biegel, who recently re-signed with the Dolphins on a one-year deal, said he participated with two family members in mind. His mother, Jamie, has dealt with breast cancer, while the family recently celebrated the memory of his aunt, Jessica, who died due to pancreatic cancer 10 years ago.
“I think everyone here and everyone in the public has had someone they know, a loved one, or knows somebody who’s been affected by cancer. I was proud to be able to ride for those people today,” Biegel said.
“I think it really speaks to the Miami Dolphins organization and the people we have to come out for a great cause.”
Along with current Dolphins players, many former Dolphins standouts also joined in on the festivities like Nat Moore, Joe Rose, Twan Russell and O.J. McDuffie.
Since its inception, the DCC has contributed more than $39.2 million in unrestricted gifts by donating 100 percent of participant-raised funds to Sylvester.
As for the state of the Dolphins on the football field, Flores and general manager Chris Grier will welcome a new top-10 pick along with several other rookies into the mix during the draft, which begins on April 29.
“I think it’s a very exciting time between the vision we’ve had years ago, the leadership we have in place now with Brian and Chris, and the new training facility coming online getting that going, what we’ve done to the stadium, and hopefully for everybody, for fans and the whole community getting back hopefully to normal here will be really important,” Garfinkel said.
“We’re trying to build very special, and [team owner] Stephen Ross has always had a vision to do that. Hopefully, we’re on the right track to do that.”