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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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Israeli to cycle across North America for cancer charity

Tags: Health
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Tom Peled [photo by Michael Plutchok, NoCamels]

Michal Divon, NoCamels

This past year, Tom Peled lost his father to a rare form of cancer, after an eight-year-long battle. As a result, he decided to launch a fundraising effort for cancer research, under the name Bike for the Fight.

When Peled’s father died of cancer in 2011 at the age of 58, he channeled his grief into a 3,000-mile long bike ride through Europe. By the end of his journey, the 24-year-old Israeli realized what an impact his personal challenge had on him, and saw his personal journey as a potential platform for a greater cause.

Cycling for new cures

Bike For the Fight plans on raising money for the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), a North American organization founded in 1975 that gives grants to top Israeli cancer researchers in leading scientific institutions across Israel. The recipients of ICRF funds, which include Nobel Prize winners such as Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko, have been engaged in research that resulted in the development of life-saving achievements, such as early diagnostic devices and new drugs for leukemia, bone marrow cancer, breast and ovarian cancer, among others.

Peled hopes to play an integral role in raising cancer awareness, leading to the development of new cures and drugs. He tells NoCamels: “My dream is that Bike for the Fight and efforts like it will someday help us overcome cancer so that other families do not have to suffer the premature loss of a loved one as my family did.”

A three months journey

On the first of August, the Israeli student will start a three months journey across the U.S, spanning over ten states and Toronto in Canada. The journey will begin in Los Angeles and continue through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania, ending in New York City.

The bike ride will involve engaging the local communities throughout his route, some which will host him and aid his efforts by organizing major sporting and fundraising events along the way.

In addition to supporting cancer research, Peled hopes this trip will enable him to strengthen the long-term relationship between American and Israeli Jews. “I see Bike For the Fight turning into the LiveStrong of the Jewish World,” he says.

Local support

Peled, currently a student at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, has already attracted an impressive group of partners and co-sponsors including Hillel, Maccabiah 2013, and Microsoft Israel, which is developing a special app for the project. He has received support from Israeli leaders, including Israeli President Shimon Peres and the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, as well as local high profile individuals and celebrities.

As part of the BFF’s efforts to raise money before heading to the U.S., the project partnered with the ‘Saving Lives Day’ organized last week by the Rothschild Foundation. Over 100 posts were set up across Israel, allowing people to donate blood and sign up for organ donation. BFF was able to raise 41,000 NIS (approximately $10,500) in one day by selling campaign bracelets. The whole sum will be donated to cancer research.

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