NORTH BRUNSWICK – When Shruthi Kumar’s mom was diagnosed with lung cancer, she was at the age where she couldn’t really comprehend what that meant.
She was around 11 years old. She grew up in Bangalore, India and remembers her mom, Shantha, had surgery. At the time, her family was focused on caring for her as best they could.
However, three years later, her mom passed away. It was November 1997. She was 14.
This year, Kumar, who now lives in North Brunswick, is participating in the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer (C2C4C) cross-country ride through her company Bristol Myers Squibb in honor of mother’s “strength and resiliency.”
“She’s the inspiration behind this ride. She’s the wind beneath my wings,” she said. “And I wanted to do everything I can to support cancer research and also help transform the lives of patients in my small way. Let them have a fighting chance, which my mother never had.”
Kumar will join more than 126 fellow Bristol Myers Squibb employees who will set out to ride up to 80 miles per day for three days, contributing to nearly 3,000 miles from Cannon Beach, Ore. to Long Branch.
She will be finishing off the ride cycling with a team of 14 to 15 people over the difficult terrains and hills from Pittsburgh, Pa. to Long Branch – roughly 225 miles – from Oct. 1-3.
Since 2014, more than 760 Bristol Myers Squibb employees have raised more than $9.83 million for cancer research through the C2C4C ride. This year, the cycling event will once again raise funds for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, a charitable organization dedicated to achieving Victory Over Cancer through research.
Kumar, who works for the worldwide training design development team at Bristol Myers Squibb, said she comes from a medical family that is big on charitable and philanthropic efforts.
“That’s something I grew up doing,” she said. “This is my way of giving back to the patients.”
Kumar said this is the first time she is doing the ride and it’s the first time doing something of such magnitude for a cause.
Training for the ride began in April.
“It’s been a very challenging experience for me, but also a riveting one,” Kumar said. “It’s definitely pushing my limits, both physically and also mentally.”
Bristol Myers Squibb matches dollar-for-a dollar of up to $500,000 raised for the V foundation.
“All funds, 100 percent of the proceeds go to the V foundation for game changing cancer research,” Kumar said.
This year’s C2C4C ride involves more than 126 Bristol Myers Squibb employees who have volunteered their personal time to fundraise and extensively train for five months aspiring to raise [over] $1 million in support of the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
Some of the riders have been diagnosed with cancer, while others are riding in honor of loved ones affected by the disease. Nine teams are participating in this year’s ride, which began on Sept. 7 and concludes on Oct. 3.
Each year, the global Bristol Myers Squibb workforce comes together to demonstrate its long-standing commitment to cancer research through the bike rides, which also expanded to Europe in 2016, Japan in 2021 and Latin America this year.
For more information visit www.cancerbikeride.org