Feature / Slice Of Hope
Cycling, pizza event supports breast cancer research
By Jeremy White, Editor in Chief
Photos by Rick Daugherty

After the success of the intitial Slice of Hope charity event in October of 2011, we knew we had to do it again. The first incarnation, you see, was much more than a simple bike ride from Portland to Seattle. It was an industry marketing event that brought people into America’s pizzerias. It raised more than $100,000 for the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation and highlighted the giving community spirit that makes pizzerias so special.

Thankfully, pizzeria owners across the nation agreed: because they turned out fast and furious to support Slice of Hope 2012. In fact, more than 230 pizzerias joined Slice of Hope 2012 by hosting fundraising parties, making donations or purchasing SOH t-shirts. Donations are still coming in, but last year’s fundraising mark has already been well surpassed. As of this writing, the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation has received roughly $140,000 in funding. And, the Foundation has been quick to act with it. Before 2012 came to a close, $25,000 had been sent to researchers at The Ohio State University, $35,000 to help fund a study at the University of Miami and $65,000 was given to the University of Washington Medicine. These studies give hope that a promising treatment is around the corner.

The funding provided to the Unversity of Miami, for example, will be used to help enroll patients in a clinical trial to test a theory that may one day save the lives of patients with triple-negative breast cancer. In a nutshell, certain breast cancer patients benefit from anti-estrogen treatments. However, those with triple negative disease present a complex and unfortunate case: their estrogen receptors are either missing or are “masked” in their DNA by what is called a “Ubiquitin.” Ubiquitins, which destroy proteins in cells, were discovered in 2004. The scientist who figured them out won a Nobel Prize in chemistry for his discovery. The study at the University of Miami is attempting to “unmask” the estrogen receptor. If this can be done, the theory is that a compound known as a “Proteasome Inhibitor” can be used to treat breast cancer patients with an anti-estrogen therapy. This treatment would then allow these patients to also benefit from Tamoxifen, which currently is only used in patients who have a functional estrogen receptor in their cancer cells. The hope is that the two therapies together can produce results.

While this may be complicated material, it shows how the hard work and giving spirit that made Slice of Hope 2012 a success will be put to use this year in an attempt to get closer to finding a cure for breast cancer. And it’s the reason Kelly Musico, co-owner of Aldos Pizza in Naples, Florida, wanted to jump on board.

“The work the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation does is just so important and so amazing,” Musico said during the Slice of Hope finale party she threw on October 12 (see photos above). Members of the Pizza Today crew cycled from Lakeland, Florida, to Naples October 9-12 to raise awareness of the Foundation and to highight the fact that October is both National Pizza Month and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The 200-plus mile bike ride served as a conversation starter for pizzerias across America as they interacted with their customers and encouraged them to support the Slice of Hope mission by visting a pizzeria on Friday, October 12, which Pizza Today designated as National Pizza Party Day. “We are just so honored to be able host this event in our community,” said Musico. “We’re honored and thrilled that Pizza Today thought of us.”

Carmello LaMotta, owner of LaMotta’s Italian Restaurant in Fort Myers (pictured with the cyclists on page 56), agrees. He hosted a reception on October 11 for the cyclists as they came through his city, then followed that by throwing his own Slice of Hope party on October 12.

“We want to give back, and this is a great cause that touches everyone,” he says. “We will have people coming in for months after this. They appreciate and value that you have a local business who invests in charities like this. They see you doing something good for others, then they know they can feel good about supporting your pizzeria.”

Stay tuned in the months ahead for a final number on how much Slice of Hope raised for the Foundation in 2012 — as well as our big plans for Slice of Hope 2013!

Jeremy White is editor-in-chief of Pizza Today.

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