VERNON — For some, a fundraiser ends with nothing more than the knowledge that money was donated to a worthy cause.
For Hap Rowan and the thousands of other patients suffering from neuroendocrine tumor (NET) cancer and other rare cancers, Team Rowan's annual Cycle for Survival event means so much more.
After eight years with the disease, doctors diagnosed Rowan, of Branchville, with NET cancer in 2008. Those eight years of misdiagnoses were a driving force behind the 2009 creation of Team Rowan — who have now donated nearly $100,000 toward NET cancer research and treatment through events like this past Saturday's Cycle for Survival event at Minerals Resort in Vernon.
During the event, 57 bicyclists, spin enthusiasts, cancer survivors and their loved ones packed the main gym at the resort for a grueling two-hour spin session led by Team Rowan members Nancy Margarum and Janet O'Neil.
Much like Cycle for Survival founder Jennifer Linn, Team Rowan was inspired to make a difference when Rowan was told how rare the cancer was.
"People have to be their own advocate," Team Rowan member Lisa Healy said.
Now part of a NET cancer treatment trial program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Rowan was recently made aware of the impact of his team's efforts.
"Unbeknownst to us," he said, "that was the same program we donated $75,000 to."
Though there is still relatively little known about the disease, an estimated 8,000 people are diagnosed with NET cancer in the United States each year.
The cancer is perhaps most infamous for claiming the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011.
"It just goes to show you," Rowan said, "you can have all the money in the world and it can still get you."
NET Cancer DayIn addition to raising funds, Team Rowan was instrumental in convincing New Jersey State Legislature to recognize Nov. 10 as NET Cancer Day. When the bill was signed by Gov. Chris Christie in 2010, New Jersey was the only state in the country to approve the day of recognition.
Margarum, a spin instructor at Minerals as well as a Team Rowan member, now has another reason to be proud of her efforts, as her father was also recently diagnosed with NET cancer.
"It's just so strange," she said of the small-world coincidence. "I'm just glad the program has come full circle" and provide for a treatment option.
For more information on Team Rowan or Cycle for Survival, visit www.cycleforsurvival.org and search for Team Rowan.