When Jennifer Goodman Linn was diagnosed in 2004 with MFH Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, she was given five years to live. She exceeded expectations due in part to her passion for cycling. She had told her doctors that if they could pull her through, she wanted to do something to give back.
While a patient at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan in 2007, she and her husband, Dave Linn, established Cycle for Survival, an annual team cycling event that raises funds for research into rare cancers at MSK. Since its inception, said Katie Kotkins, Cycle for Survival director at Sloan-Kettering, more than $12 million has been raised, 100 percent of it going to laboratory research, shared by cancer hospitals throughout the country.
Linn, a Harvard Business School graduate, died in July 2011 at the age of 40, but her legacy continues as her hometown of Livingston has pulled out all the stops for this year’s Cycle for Survival day on Feb. 11. More than 100 “teams” of cyclists have already signed up to ride at the Livingston Senior and Community Center and other spots throughout town, including representatives from the police, fire, and EMS departments.
The program is just one “satellite” in a larger fund-raising universe; similar events will be held in, among other locales, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The Livingston event is spearheaded by Jeanne Silberman and Greer Gelman — two of Goodman Linn’s friends from Livingston High School — and her parents, Sandy and Len Goodman. The 2012 campaign had raised more than $4.1 million, well on the way to surpass the $4.5 million taken in in 2011.
This year marks the first time the event will be held without Goodman Linn.
“It should be a joyous day, a very positive day, but a very sober day at the same time,” said Sandy Goodman. “It has grown tremendously in impact and it has benefitted so many people already and we see so much more in the future.”
Goodman praised the Livingston community for its support. The town council has waived all fees normally imposed for permits on fund-raising activities, and close to 100 local merchants have planned promotions, with a portion of proceeds going toward Cycle for Survival.
“The township is showing massive support for this endeavor for a number of reasons,” said Mayor Stephen A. Santola in an e-mail. “First and foremost is the Goodman family [who are] held in high regard throughout town…. Jennifer was a well known volunteer and activist back to her days at Livingston High School.
“Livingston has a long history of volunteerism and a reputation for taking care of its own,” Santola said. “The Goodman family is a ‘Livingston family’ and when a Livingston family calls, the town always answers.”
Her daughter “would have been ecstatic,” said Goodman, whose family have been members of Temple Emanu-El of West Essex in Livingston for many years. “This is her dream. Jennifer knew she was dying. She knew a long time ago, and she worked very hard to establish what she wanted this to be as her legacy.
“She’d be so grateful to so many people who have embraced it. It was a dream of hers, and it’s wonderful that it’s a reality.”
For more information or to donate, visit Cycleforsurvival.org.