A bicycle saved Sam Stern’s life 35 years ago, and today Stern, the chief communications technologist for Sarasota-based consultancy MagnifyGOOD, is helping others in their fight against cancer through the nonprofit Team Tony.
At 31 and living in Vermont, Stern weighed 240 pounds, his cholesterol count was nearly 300 and he smoked. “My doctor told me I was going to be dead if I kept it up,” he says. Then he signed up for a two-day, 150-mile bike ride to raise money for muscular dystrophy research. “I was so out of shape, [but] when I opened my mouth and said I was doing it, I had to,” he says. It was daunting, “but I managed to do it, and I got hooked. I haven’t stopped [bicycling] since.”
Stern, 66, bikes an average 150 miles a week with the Downtown Starbucks Bike Ride Group out to Longboat Key, Anna Maria or Lakewood Ranch. Every Sunday they ride out Fruitville Road to Myakka River State Park. “It really does start the day off well,” he says.
Many of his fellow bikers also support Team Tony. Sarasotan Tony McEachern launched the nonprofit organization in 2010, after surviving his own grueling fight with brain cancer, to match cancer fighters with cancer survivors, who act as mentors. Stern successfully fought prostate cancer four years ago.
Stern also participates in Team Tony’s Cycle of Life each October, in which some 70 riders gather monetary pledges for a two-day bike ride across Florida. Last year they raised more than $100,000.
MagnifyGOOD was founded by his wife, Roxanne Joffe (the two also own and operate Cap Brand Marketing). Focused on social sector programs, they help public organizations, nonprofits and foundations with their marketing. Stern’s cycling is an extension of that work. “Whenever a cancer fighter comes in to talk, I’m there,” he says.