'Padres Pedal the Cause' paves way for cancer research

'Padres Pedal the Cause' paves way for cancer research

SAN DIEGO -- One of the finest events in America's Finest City rolled into Petco Park this weekend.

The "Padres Pedal the Cause," a two-day cycling event to raise money for cancer research, saw 1,500 participants and will raise around $2 million by the time the fundraising period is over at the end of the month.

"Just to sum it up, $2 million for research goes a long way," said Jay Indovino, the event's executive director. "It funds a lot of good ideas. ... We are really moving the ball forward, and we're getting a lot of these ideas up and running. It's meaningful, because right now, we are at an incredible time in breakthroughs in cancer research."

It's Pedal the Cause's fourth year in San Diego, but the first as Padres Pedal the Cause after the two organizations partnered earlier this year.

"It could not have gone any better, working with the Padres," Indovino said. "They really elevated our event to the premier cycling event in San Diego."

Padres Pedal the Cause opened on Saturday morning, when a group of riders embarked on a 100-mile trek. Afterward, the ballpark played host to a post-race celebration with live music and entertainment before an on-the-field dinner.

Then, on Sunday, the remaining participants took center stage to ride various distances, ranging from 12 miles to 62 miles. While those riders were on the course, Petco Park hosted a trio of spin classes, before an on-field brunch was served.

Among those in attendance for the event were Padres skipper Andy Green and former closer Trevor Hoffman. In fact, Hoffman participated in Sunday's ride in memory of his former teammate, legendary outfielder Tony Gwynn.

"For me, this weekend catapults us into growth," Indovino said. "I just believe that we are going to fund incredible research, and we are going to find new treatments and cures sooner rather than later, with Padres Pedal the Cause's help."

Proceeds from the event will fund cancer research at the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, the Salk Institute and Rady Children's Hospital.

As of Sunday, approximately $1.65 million had been raised, according to the event's website -- and Indovino expects that number to grow in the coming weeks.

The figures are undoubtedly impressive, and the money is bound to make a major difference. But in Indovino's eyes, the participants and their stories are the most tangible representation of the event's impact.

"It really feels like we're building a community," Indovino said. "When I see people making new friends and gathering with old friends around this kind of cycling event -- all having fundraised for this great cause -- it really kind of chokes you up. It brings meaning to this.

"And it's all about San Diego. All [that money] is going to fund cancer research in San Diego. When you layer the Padres onto all these unbelievable beneficiaries -- the Moores Cancer Center, Salk, Sanford Burnham, Rady's -- when you layer the Padres onto that, it becomes a true San Diego event."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.