Boaters Rally for Cancer-Free Futures

The Cruise for Life fundraiser in Provincetown joined boaters in the fight against cancer.

Cruise for Life

Fran Grenon/Spectrum Photo

Over 100 boaters aboard 18 boats came together for a tented extravaganza on MacMillan Pier in Provincetown, MA on Saturday, July 28th for the First Annual Cruise for Life Boat-a-thon. To date, the event has raised over $43,000 supporting the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Jimmy Fund for cancer research and cures. Many of the participants and fundraisers in attendance were cancer survivors themselves and shared stories about the outstanding research and compassionate patient care they have received at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and other New England-based cancer centers.

Cruise for Life Executive Director Mike Handler said “This was our first year, and given the success of the event and the dedication and commitment of the sponsoring corporations and yachts clubs, I am sure we will see many more successful years in the future in our fight against cancer.” Power and sailboat crews will reunite in Provincetown next summer, for the second annual Celebration of Life event, on July 27, 2013.

After months of fundraising efforts for this inaugural event, skippers and crews shared in the “Celebration of Life” with a spectacular party that even bad weather couldn’t put a damper on. The bountiful Lobster Bake/BBQ was exquisite, and the 8-person dance band Unity kept the party going.

The highlight and focus of the evening was the opportunity for participants to share their inspirational stories, experiences, and hopes for their healthy futures. What really made the evening intimate were the stories shared and connections forged. The shared goal to cure cancer created a common bond between all who attended. Every person at the event had a personal story – whether they or a loved one had been touched by cancer. Steve Rafferty and his wife Holly Wilson aboard Neptune spoke of a fight with cancer by Holly's younger brother. Holly and Steve "have always been contributors to cancer fundraising organizations," and said "it's great for us to give back". Jean Kenney aboard Resolute is an 8-year ovarian cancer survivor who received treatment at Dana-Farber as well as Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston. Jean told of her "wonderful experience at Dana-Farber", and how the caregivers there "never made me feel sorry for myself". Jean noted that her experience with cancer has changed her life in many ways: "You value your health more; you're not always looking on the outside – you do more looking on the inside; you get connected and more grounded."

Two keynote speakers captured the audience with moving, passion-filled speeches about their intimate experiences with cancer and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Shane McBride, a cancer survivor who serves on the Patient Care Advisory Council for Dana-Farber, shared his very personal, touching story. Dana-Farber researcher Ed Stack, a sailor and cancer survivor himself, participated in the fundraising event with his sailboat Gotta Jibboo and enlightened the crowd about the leading-edge research that is taking place at Dana-Farber.

Gosling's Rum kept the Dark 'n' Stormies flowing through the evening, and prizes were presented throughout the night thanks to generous sponsors including Atlantis WeatherGear, Cruising World, Morgan Stanley and the Moorings. Atlantis WeatherGear owner Bill Mann said "We are thrilled to be a supporter of the event, and look forward to the opportunity of being involved again in next year's Cruise for Life. It's our pleasure to participate with such exceptional people and sponsors for such a worthy cause!"

The Moorings graciously donated a 7-day charter aboard a 41 ft. sailboat in the British Virgin Islands as the grand prize, to be awarded to the top fundraising individual. Cruise for Life is keeping the fundraising open until November 1, 2012, and any individual, not just those who were part of the inaugural event, may participate to win this prize.

Four Yacht Clubs supported this event and encouraged their members to participate: Blue Water Sailing Club, Jubilee Yacht Club of Beverly, MA, Pelagic Sailing Club of Boston, and American Yacht Club of Newburyport, MA. Mike Handler commented, "we hope to see even more members participate from these clubs next year, and encourage more yacht clubs to join our team".

Cruise for Life was founded by Mike Handler of Walpole, Massachusetts who serves as Executive Director. Mike is an avid offshore sailor, who has one Marion Bermuda Race and two Newport Bermuda Races under his belt. He also enjoys sailing the New England coast on his Catalina 40, Little Miss Magic, with his wife Marcie, seven-year-old daughter Ellie and five-year-old son Evan. "We want to raise these funds while doing what we love: boating and being on the water," says Mike.

About Cruise for Life
Cruise for Life is a 501c3 organization that raises money to cure cancer by donating proceeds to the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The cornerstone event is an annual Boat-a-thon for power and sailboats, with a celebration evening held at Macmillan Pier in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Captains may register their boats and crew online, and recruit friends / crew to join them in seeking donations from sponsors. For more details, contact Founder/Executive Director Mike Handler at (781)367-6206 or mike@cruiseforlife.org.

To learn more, visit Cruise for Life on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.