(SACRAMENTO)

The 7th annual Crush Challenge will peddle through some of the most beautiful panoramas of the Napa Valley on Oct. 9, 2021, raising money for cancer patients across Northern California. 

UC Davis cycling team co-captains, David Lubarsky and Aydee Ferguson, lead fundraising team on recent training ride.
UC Davis cycling team co-captains, David Lubarsky and Aydee Ferguson, lead fundraising team on recent training ride.

The day is filled with fun activities to raise money to support research into innovative, non-toxic treatments for lymphoma underway at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Now is the time to register for the 25- or 37-mile bike ride options or buy tickets to the Barrel Tasting or Food & Wine Marketplace following the morning cycling. 

Hosted by the deLeuze Family Charitable Foundation and ZD Wines, the Crush Challenge begins with a cycling excursion that departs from Veterans Memorial Park in Yountville and passes through vineyard-lined avenues, with a “rest stop” at ZD Wines in Rutherford to imbibe in barrel tasting and appetizers. 

The inspiration for the fundraiser comes from ZD Wines founder Norman deLeuze, who had lymphoma but did not want the standard therapy that involved chemotherapy. He was a patient of UC Davis oncologist and researcher Joseph Tuscano, who specializes in cancers of the blood. Tuscano studies alternatives to treating lymphoma and discovered a naturopathic remedy that shrank deLeuze’s tumor and extended his life.  

Although deLeuze eventually lost his battle with cancer, ZD Wines and the deLeuze family wanted to create a legacy for him by creating the Crush Challenge. The annual fundraiser has raised more than $300,000 to date for the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Last year, it was a virtual event due to COVID-19 and riders are anxious to participate in-person this year. 

“I see the faces of the victims of lymphoma daily, but I also carry with me the kindness of those whose faces I will never see and yet they support us in this challenge to ‘crush cancer’ and I’m grateful because we cannot do it alone,” said Tuscano. 

Non-riders are encouraged to support the event or contribute directly to a team—such as the UC Davis cycling team, which is co-captained by UC Davis Health CEO David Lubarsky.  The team is expected to grow to 30+ by the event date.  

“Our team is a cross-causeway group, with riders from many units on both the Sacramento and Davis campuses, and the team brings together a lot of UC Davis pride,” said Lubarsky. “We’ve all been touched by cancer in some way, so it’s great to team up with others who have similar experiences and train together, as we work to complete the Crush Challenge and raise money and awareness for the important research that may save the lives of future cancer patients.” 

The UC Davis team is open to anyone affiliated with the university including faculty, staff, students, grateful patients and donors. Training rides began this month, with the team alternating weekly between Davis and Sacramento sites until the event date. 

“We hope to continue riding together monthly as it is a great way to get to know colleagues while exercising and practicing for the Crush Challenge year-round,” said Lubarsky’s team co-captain Aydee Ferguson.  

The registration fee for the Crush Challenge ride is $25, with a required fundraising minimum of $100 (which also gets the rider free admission to the Food & Wine Marketplace) or pay a flat $125 rather than fundraise. 

To join the team, go to www.crushchallenge.net and click the “Join Us” button in the upper-right corner. Then:

  • Click “Register to Ride” and choose the desired ride length.
  • After you click “Register,” a participant information screen will appear. Click on “Join a Fundraising Team” and select “UC Davis” from the drop-down menu.

Don’t ride?

Come join the after-ride events and buy tickets for: 

  • Barrel Tasting at ZD Wines in Rutherford 10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Food & Wine Marketplace at the North Yountville Park, 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. 

If you don’t make it to the Crush Challenge, you can donate directly by clicking on the UC Davis Crush Challenge team site.