Photo by Tom Barrett

The other night, I was with some people who took note of my phone crawling across the table top. Someone asked, “How can you stand it?” 

“Stand what?” 

“The phone.” “Really? I love it.” 


I said, “This is go time. Do you know how many doors I have knocked in seventeen years?” 

I explained that these are the people who have heard the knock, the people who have opened their doors to Less Cancer. They are coming to Traverse City, Michigan; they are the people packing up their bags and bikes, hugging their families goodbye, and flying across the country to pedal for cancer prevention. It fills my heart, and honestly, when I see them roll in, I can barely hold the tears back. 

From points across the country, people are coming to this northern Michigan City for the Less Cancer Bike Ride. 

They are the people who want to see not just Less Cancer but the end of the pervasive suffering that touches all when the disease hits. They are the people who have gotten behind awareness, medical education, and policies that work to end cancer. 

Traverse City is a Lake Michigan city. Not unlike similar cities of its size, it has had its share of public health challenges, which we face across our nation. However, for issues such as obesity, just as an example,  Traverse City’s initiatives go beyond anything I have seen. It is astounding to see the city taking steps such as putting in sidewalks, getting whole families on bikes, and getting them moving. Traverse City is a city of collaborators; it is a community that gets behind good deeds. 

As an organization, we are so impressed with some of the excellent work the people of Traverse City have been doing. We are designating the town as the first recipient of our Healthy Town Initiative and selecting it to be represented at the National Cancer Prevention Workshop on Capitol Hill on Less Cancer’s Healthy Town Panel, in February.

This Sunday, June 9, the annual Team Less Cancer bike ride will circle Traverse City, with four different distances for cyclists of all abilities. Now in its seventh year, I am proud that the ride attracts riders from places as far away as California, Utah, Virginia, and Maine, who are passionate about cycling and funding the work of cancer prevention. The ride raises vital funds for Less Cancer and its efforts to prevent cancer.

This ride generates the funding that does much of our excellent work, funding the work for cancer prevention, specifically the National Cancer Prevention Workshop. The Workshop is produced on Capitol Hill and is attended by legislators. It also includes programming that provides cancer-prevention continuing medical education credits to physicians, nurses, and public health professionals. The workshop is streamed live to a global target audience of more than 61,000 in at least 45 countries.

Less Cancer, which was officially founded as Next Generation Choices Foundation (501c3), has been a pioneer in working for cancer prevention, providing education, and continuing medical education and policy since 2004. The organization founded the National Cancer Prevention Day and the National Cancer Prevention Workshop and initiated the United States Congressional Bipartisan Cancer Prevention Caucus. The organization often collaborates with universities, medical centers, and government and non-government organizations.

So, while I often hear about the overnight impact of Less Cancer, I know that none of this happened overnight, and it certainly wasn’t fate or accident. The efforts for Less Cancer span globally, and they are coming to Traverse City, Michigan, to make sure they continue. 

Today, we see all kinds of people getting behind the work of Less Cancer, and we see cities like Traverse City regain their community health by taking it back, switching up the paradigm of creating healthy futures for the Next Generation.