Island Vibes December 2023

early everyone has been affected by cancer one way or another, whether directly or indirectly. The second leading cause of death in the U.S. behind only heart disease, the American Cancer Society estimates that there were 1.9 million newly-diagnosed cases and 609,360 cancer deaths in 2022. LOWVELO, a year-long fundraising event in support of MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, aims to help eradicate cancer by supporting research into new treatments and promising approaches to finding cures. The annual ride provides crucial dollars that can be used for high-risk, high-reward projects that sometimes struggle to obtain funding elsewhere. These types of projects can lead to big breakthroughs in 16 SPORTS N LOWVELO supporters posing in front of the LOWVELO sign. LOWVELO riders cycling for the cure during the 5th annual LOWVELO Ride. LOWVELO cycles on to fundraise vital cancer research By Colin McCandless understanding and treating cancer. The 5th annual LOWVELO Ride held Nov. 4 featured different cycling routes all ending at the Isle of Palms. An estimated 1,300 riders participated in LOWVELO in 2023. Riders choose one of five routes based on their desired distance: 10, 20, 23, 50 or 80 miles. There are many ways to participate, including a stationary ride and a virtual ride option. Each rider commits to the cause by fundraising at least a minimum amount based on their chosen distance. The 23-, 50- and 80-mile routes start at Brittlebank Park in downtown Charleston. The 10- and 20-mile Island Rides start on Isle of Palms. All rides end at LOWVELO’s Isle of Palms finish line where they host a family-friendly block party to celebrate cancer survivors and honor loved ones lost to the disease. Stationary cycling classes also take place at the IOP finish line. The event originated in 2019, inspired by a massive cancer fundraiser and cycling event in Ohio called Pelotonia that has raised more than $283 million for innovative cancer research, explained Hollings LOWVELO manager and cyclist Chris Winn. Hollings Cancer Center had connections to doctors and event planners involved with Pelotonia, and researchers and doctors familiar with the ride saw it as a successful model to emulate. Prior to LOWVELO’s launch, no similar fundraising ride existed here in South Carolina and Hollings worked to initiate LOWVELO in our state to address that gap. Over the first four years of the event, LOWVELO raised more than $1.7 million for lifesaving cancer research, according to Hollings Cancer Center digital marketing/ events communication specialist Kristin Lee. All proceeds directly fund cancer research at Hollings Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in South Carolina. LOWVELO supports a wide variety of Photos Provided cancer research projects as well as fellowships and scholarships to help train the next generation of cancer researchers. Winn said that LOWVELO is more than just a fundraiser, it’s also about “expanding awareness of what Hollings is and what it does.” Winn maintained that because MUSC Hollings Cancer Center is a state hospital, the grant writing process is very competitive and securing grants for new cutting-edge therapies can be difficult. LOWVELO channels funding to novel research that holds significant promise. LOWVELO anticipates a record-breaking year of fundraising in 2023, said Winn, although the final amount won’t be tallied until year’s end. Supporters raise money through different avenues such as Facebook and Instagram fundraisers, bake sales, student-led fundraisers, athletic clubs and more. Event sponsors, such as the Beemok Family Foundation, play an impactful role as well. Next year’s LOWVELO ride is scheduled for Nov. 2, 2024. Fundraising efforts for 2023 continue through Dec. 31. To learn more, visit