LOWVELO attracts record number of participants, raises money for cancer research

October 14, 2021
Bruce Dales with bike
Dales will join the other 700 participants for LOWVELO saying the ride gives him a chance to connect with other cancer survivors. Photos provided

Charleston native Bruce Dales logs over a thousand miles a year running and cycling, but on Nov. 6, he’ll tackle a 100-mile ride that perhaps means more than all the others combined. Dales, a cancer survivor and advocate for cancer research and education, is among the record number of participants taking part in LOWVELO 2021.

“I’m not riding for me. I’m riding for my kids and their kids and the generations to come,” he said. “It’s crazy that we still don’t have a cure for cancer after all these years.”

LOWVELO, which started in 2019, raises money for lifesaving cancer research at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center. This year’s event is the largest ever and features four bike routes to choose from – 10, 22, 57 and 100 miles – as well as stationary cycling classes and a virtual Home Team option.

Dales, who was treated at Hollings and will be joining the other 700 participants for LOWVELO, said the ride gives him a chance to connect with other people and other cancer survivors. Since being diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2016, Dales, a husband and father of three daughters, has turned to running and biking – logging over 3,116 miles running and 4,780 miles cycling.

“When you get the news you have cancer, you really have two choices – sit around feeling sorry for yourself and not try and enjoy what you have or make a conscious effort to do things differently and do it with purpose. That’s what I chose to do.”

Having people from all walks of life join together for a great cause is one of the main purposes of the event, said Hollings director Raymond N. DuBois, M.D., Ph.D. “The LOWVELO bike ride brings together survivors, friends, family members, researchers and those who care about the future of cancer research and treatment. This year, we’ll have some Hollings researchers there wearing T-shirts that say ‘Ask me about my research’ because we want to get the community involved and excited about what we’re doing. We also know the power of community engagement in finding cures to cancer.”

Many participants are drawn to the event because corporate partners, including the premier sponsor the Beemok Family Foundation, ensure that 100% of what is raised by participants goes to fund cancer research, he said.

Bruce Dales radiation treatment 
Dales receiving radiation treatment. Photo provided

“As the only NCI-designated cancer center in South Carolina, Hollings is dedicated to advancing cancer care as well as reaching the medically underserved,” DuBois said. “Research funded by LOWVELO has already helped to support promising CAR-T-cell therapy at Hollings, a treatment of last resort for many patients.”

“Cancer research takes time, diligence and dedication,” he adds, “but we are making progress. Today more people are living with cancer than dying from it. This milestone was only achieved in the last 10 years or so.”

Rachel Haynie, LOWVELO event manager, said participants are truly helping to save lives in South Carolina. “The money that each rider raises through LOWVELO goes to support cancer research that might otherwise not be funded through federal grants,” Haynie said. “That opens the door for researchers to make new discoveries, advance treatments and, ultimately, help to save lives of cancer patients in South Carolina.”

Haynie explained that the event goes beyond fundraising. “This is a destination ride showcasing the gorgeous Lowcountry vistas and ocean views,” she said. “There also will be a ‘Why I Ride’ wall where people can share their stories. It’s going to be a celebration.”

Packet pickup for riders and Home Team participants takes place on Friday, Nov. 5, at Firefly Distillery. Each participant will receive one complimentary drink ticket as well as a 2021 swag bag, featuring the official LOWVELO T-shirt, official cyclist jersey, bike safety lights, LOWVELO decal magnet and the cancer center’s Hollings Horizons magazine.

Following the ride on Nov. 6, participants are welcome to kick back at the LOWVELO festival block party on Ocean Drive on the Isle of Palms, featuring live music from the Jaykob Kendrick Band and Return of the M.A.C. as well as catering from Swig & Swine and refreshing beverages.

LOWVELO participants will likely recognize a few celebrities riding on Nov. 6, including George Hincapie, a former professional road bicycle racer who participated in some of the world’s most prestigious sporting events, including the Tour de France and the Olympic Games.

As always, rider safety is the priority during the event. LOWVELO starts from two new locations this year. The shorter Island Ride leaves from the Isle of Palms. The longer routes leave from The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium, with riders departing in two waves starting at 7:30 a.m.  

"Today more people are living with cancer than dying from it. This milestone was only achieved in the last 10 years or so.”
— Dr. Raymond N. DuBois

Each wave will have a unique peloton experience from the start line, with the city of Charleston police providing an escort from the start through a short city section and onto the Ravenel Bridge, where motorists will experience a temporary rolling one lane closure as riders cross the bridge. The rolling lane closures will begin around 7:35 a.m. and last until around 9:30 a.m. The escort will continue into Mt. Pleasant onto Coleman Boulevard, where the escort ends and cyclists will have the protected right curb lane. 

There also are new COVID safety protocols that have been put in place at the recommendation of MUSC leadership to ensure safety, stating that participants must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test at packet pickup.

“We understand that we are all living in unprecedented times. We hope LOWVELO provides a sense of normalcy while bringing people together to support a cause that everyone can get behind – finding a cure for cancer,” Haynie said.

Dales said he can’t wait for the big day. He is hoping for good weather and great camaraderie and that a lot of money will be raised to fund cancer research and save lives locally. “I’m excited for LOWVELO. I’m excited to meet other survivors and hear other people’s stories. Cancer touches just about everyone. This is our way to make a big difference in the fight to find a cure.”