Two men walked their bikes down Locust Walk along with a crowd of Penn students. Strapped to the backs of the bikes were little blue license plates that read, “Bike for the Fight: LA to NY for the benefit of cancer research.”
Last night, Penn Hillel hosted Tom Peled, founder of Bike for the Fight — a fundraising effort to support the Israel Cancer Research Fund — before he moves on with his team to New York next week.
Peled has spent the last year traveling from Los Angeles to New York City as part of the project, raising money and awareness for cancer research.
However, BFF is more than just a fundraiser: Peled wants to share his team’s experience and inspiration with others.
Wharton junior Julia Posluns, co-president of Penn’s Israel Cultural Committee, said the ICC worked with the World Zionist Organization and Penn’s chapter of Actively Moving Forward to plan the event.
First, the BFF team discussed their missions and their progress, and after, they took the students in attendance on a stroll down Locust Walk. The team stopped other students along the way, handing out BFF bracelets and talking about its mission.
During the presentation, Peled shared his life story and how it inspired him to create his project.
When Peled turned 15, he learned that his father, Ramy, had been diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of cancer, and that he probably only had a few months left to live. His father battled the odds, but died eight years later.
Peled said when his father passed away, “I felt that if at that point I didn’t take myself and do something … channel my grief into something better than what I was doing, then I was going to go down a very, very steep and difficult hill with no bottom.”
However, Peled was able to let go of his grief by traveling through Europe on his bicycle for three months.
“I felt that I went through an amazing experience,” he said. “I couldn’t end it here.”
Upon arriving home in Israel, he founded BFF and traveled to California to start his mission.
So far, his team has raised $80,000 for the ICRF. With only 500 miles until they reach New York, the team hopes to raise a total of $100,000.
In addition, the project’s Facebook page has over 3,000 likes, and Peled encourages people to become more involved in BFF.
Along with Peled, the other members of BFF each have their own stories to tell.
Roey Peleg, who oversees the medical and safety aspects of the trip, said he went through his own grief when his grandfather died.
“Maybe if I cannot save my grandfather, I can save other people,” Peleg said.
Even after their trip is over, the team’s efforts will continue.
Peled said these are “just the seeds, and this year we’ve planted a lot of seeds everywhere.”
He is confident that these seeds will “start to blossom and turn into trees and a lot of fruits will come from them, and Bike for the Fight will keep on growing.”
Capturing the tone of his presentation, the last slide of Peled’s PowerPoint presentation read, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”