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LOWVELO gearing up to be the best event ever, Glow Blue activities to include mechanical bull

While he watched his mother fight cancer, Matt Miller of Greenwood, South Carolina, never knew he would end up in a similar battle. “I always remembered her saying ‘I knew I had cancer. I just went to the doctor for my diagnosis,’” said Miller. “I didn’t truly get what she was saying until I also knew for myself.”

In late 2019, Miller was diagnosed with stage two colorectal cancer. Not long after, he underwent emergency surgery. “I was fortunate to dodge chemotherapy and radiation but was forced to accept surgery as the only option to remove the mass,” said Miller.

This fall, his musical group, The Jake Bartley Band, will be headlining the LOWVELO finish-line block party. This annual fundraising event will be held on Saturday, Nov. 5, and 100% of the money raised by participants will fund lifesaving cancer research at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center in South Carolina. Participants can choose from four routes, stationary cycling, a virtual ride option or volunteering.

Matt Miller of The Jake Bartley Band and his mother, Sandy.
Matt Miller of The Jake Bartley Band.
Matt Miller of The Jake Bartley Band.

It’s a special time for survivors to gather. For Miller, this gives him a chance to support lifesaving cancer research following his own lifesaving treatment.

“Without organizations like MUSC stepping up through LOWVELO and connecting the funding dots, we would still be in the Stone Age of cancer research and treatment development,” said Miller. “LOWVELO is invaluable to those of us fighting.”

Hollings director Raymond N. DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., said this event brings together survivors, the community and Hollings researchers and clinicians in a powerful way. “Cancer touches everyone in some way. And this event is an opportunity for us to celebrate the advances we’re making and support research that will provide tomorrow’s cures as well,” said DuBois. “It’s so fun every year to see the excitement of the people who support us. It inspires us to work harder.” An exciting addition to this year’s event is a Hollings rally line. Three of the routes will start at Brittlebank Park in Charleston and go past Hollings Cancer Center on Calhoun Street as participants then head to and across the Ravenel Bridge and through some of the most scenic areas of the Lowcountry. Another addition is a rolling lane closure throughout downtown and across the Ravenel Bridge, allowing riders more room and minimizing the impact on local neighborhoods.

“Similar to Charleston hospitality, there is really no route quite like the LOWVELO routes. They are so unique,” said Medalist Sport President Chris Aronhalt, who helps manage the event. “The scenic and breathtaking routes of LOWVELO take riders through the historic streets of downtown, across the famous Ravenel Bridge, through beautiful neighborhoods east of the Cooper River, into the Francis Marion National Forest and along stunning beach views on Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms. It’s a mix of all the best the Lowcountry has to offer.”

The LOWVELO fun starts this month with the annual Glow Blue Week, Sept. 19 to 23, held on the MUSC campus. Hollings Cancer Center will be lit up in blue all week long. Registration for the ride will be free, and the LOWVELO team will be handing out fun swag around campus. The week features a special glow in the dark stationary cycling class, Wednesday, Sept. 21; participants can reserve their spots.

On Thursday, Sept. 22, LOWVELO team members will be on the MUSC Greenway with information, fun swag items and a chance to ride Bucky the mechanical bull from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. They also will be out there from 9 p.m to midnight.

On Friday, Sept. 23, the second LOWVELO as a Lifestyle Lunch and Learn will be held. Participants can join in person or online to hear from Sundar Balasubramanian, Ph.D., a world-renowned expert in yogic breathing and stress release. Also joining him will be a Wellness Center trainer who will teach mobility exercises.

On Friday, Nov. 4, the evening before the Nov. 5 LOWVELO event, there will be a packet pick-up party at Firefly Distillery as well as two opportunities for MUSC participants to get their packets at Hollings: Nov. 3, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Bucky the Bull will be available for rides during the Greenway Festival on Thursday, Sept. 22.

No matter how people choose to participate, everyone involved is invited to join in the block party at the finish line, with live music, food and fun to celebrate cancer survivors and honor loved ones lost to the disease. This includes volunteers. It takes more than 300 volunteers to make the event a success, so people are needed for a variety of positions from manning a rest stop to being an event photographer.

The Jake Bartley Band will headline the finish-line block party at LOWVELO.

Miller said participants can expect a diverse and entertaining show. He and The Jake Bartley Band will be playing everything from country to funk and dance tunes and are excited to be part of the big LOWVELO block party. Miller knows how very fortunate he has been and offered up some advice for others fighting cancer.

“Surround yourself with others that have fought and won and don’t be afraid to reach out to a counselor or therapist for help also,” he said. “Keep your head up! Just like me, you didn’t ask to be in the cancer club, but you’re here now and part of a group of fighters that are all fiercely cheering for you to win.”

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