NEW YORK – The off-season for many NCAA Division I athletic teams and athletes includes a variety of duties that can range from extra classes, workouts, individual instruction and internships, but an often overlooked aspect to team building is community service efforts. For the third straight year, the Columbia men’s soccer team came together as a complete squad to help raise funds for the Cycle for Survival organization.


Cycle for Survival was founded in 2007 with the goal of raising money for rare cancer research. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a “rare cancer” is one with a prevalence of fewer than 200,000 affected individuals in the United States. Cycle for Survival provides participants an opportunity to help fund research and treatment options through the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The organization donates 100 percent of the funds raised to MSKCC, with the money being allocated to a specific initiative within six months of a given Cycle for Survival event. The benefits have been realized in $31.2 millions dollars raised, funding 53 clinical trials and research studies.


The Columbia men’s soccer team has felt a personal connection to Cycle for Survival since participating in its first event three years ago.


“We originally became involved because our ex-assistant coach, Tommy McMenemy, played league soccer with the founder, whose wife passed away from cancer two summers ago, so it felt personal from the beginning,” said junior midfielder Steven Daws. “The guys get really into it, and this year we were able to raise $1,364 for leading cancer research at MSKCC.”


With continued support from teams like Columbia men’s soccer, as well as major corporations that include Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan, Cycle for Survival has went from raising $250,000 in its first year to $13.8 million in the last fiscal year.


The continued growth of the event, in conjunction with the physical requirement, has inspired the men’s soccer program to continue its prideful participation. This year's event was held at Equinox: Greybar in Midtown Manhattan on Sunday, March 3.


“Through Cycle, I think the team has found inspiration in fighting for a cause that has touched all our lives in some way,” commented Daws, who is responsible for team community service and outreach. “We acknowledge the enormous need for developments in the fight against cancer and the motivation to contribute comes quite naturally. The enthusiasm and energy of the event's organizers and participants is truly remarkable.  Cycle has grown so much during our involvement, raising almost $14 million this year and we just feel privileged to have been a small part of it.  We are already looking forward to round four.”