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As more than 30 cyclists made their final turn into the Capitol Courtyard Wednesday, the finish of the four-day, 325-mile Cure on Wheels Capitol Ride officially kicked off Moffitt Day at the State Capitol. This annual day of advocacy highlights the cancer center’s growing impact in the state of Florida and beyond. More than 75 patients, caregivers and Moffitt Cancer Center team members traveled to Tallahassee this year to share their stories with Florida lawmakers.

“It’s our chance to come and thank all of our members of government who helped us through the years and will help us moving forward,” said Tim Adams, chair of Moffitt’s Institute Board of Directors. “We all know what we do, but not everybody does. To be able to come up here face-to-face to deliver the message, let members see some of the great scientists and doctors we have working with us to find the cure has just been tremendous.”

After crossing the finish line, the group of cyclists presented three checks with the proceeds from last year’s ride which raised more than $70,000.

The funding will be used to support adolescent and young adult fertility services, blood and marrow transplantation services and research in the lab headed by Dr. Ghassan El-Haddad, who is developing novel, targeted cancer therapies.

“It’s such a rewarding feeling to enter the Capitol courtyard,” said El-Haddad, who was participating in his second Capitol Ride. “We do this to support Moffitt Cancer Center. This money is going to go towards research that we’re doing in prostate cancer using minimally invasive procedures.

Inside the Capitol building, Moffitt President and CEO Dr. Patrick Hwu led the groups of Moffitt advocates in discussions with dozens of bipartisan members of the Florida House and Senate.

The continued financial support from the state is vital to Moffitt’s ability to build and upgrade facilities to meet the needs of its growing patient population.

“It’s a very synergistic relationship where we help cancer patients throughout Florida, and in turn the state has been extremely supportive in growing Moffitt Cancer Center to what it is today,” said Hwu. “Our patients need us. We have more cancer deaths in Florida than nearly every other state. We’re second in the nation and we need to drop those cancer death rates.”

Moffitt offered free head and neck screenings to the community, logging 66 screenings and 3 suspicious findings.

Jamie Murphy took part in his first Capitol Ride this year. He was inspired to support Moffitt after last year’s Moffitt Day, when doctors discovered something suspicious during a free skin cancer screening.

“While I was here as a volunteer, I went into the Mole Patrol to get screened,” said Murphy. “The screeners found something that didn’t look right so I went to my dermatologist to get checked and it was melanoma. I had no idea I had it.  I was very lucky that the Mole Patrol was here otherwise I may not have gotten it checked for years. Today I can say I am cancer free thanks to Moffitt.”