Fighting Cancer, One Mile at a Time

GCC'S Victor Leyva demonstrates wealth of compassion and tenacity

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Fighting Cancer, One Mile at a Time

Victor Leyva poses before going on a morning bike ride to train for a marathon.

Victor Leyva poses before going on a morning bike ride to train for a marathon.

Victor Leyva/ Courtesy Photo

Victor Leyva poses before going on a morning bike ride to train for a marathon.

Victor Leyva/ Courtesy Photo

Victor Leyva/ Courtesy Photo

Victor Leyva poses before going on a morning bike ride to train for a marathon.

Marian Sahakyan, Managing Editor

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You often see him in the hallways of Glendale College or driving his golf cart around campus, giving out smiles and kindness everywhere he goes. Many don’t know his name or title, but remember him by his positive attitude and willingness to give back.

Victor Leyva, the head of Facilities at GCC doesn’t only spread positivity at work, which he describes as his second home, but also tries to make an impact on little lives in the United States, Canada and Australia. Two years ago, he partnered up with Great Cycle Challenge USA, in hopes to help raise money for kids who suffer from cancer and other diseases.

Great Cycle Challenge USA is an interesting platform, where fitness meets fundraising. Upon registering with the non-profit organization, participants are to set a personal mile goal and dollar amount to be completed in a time period of a month. The participant can ride as much or as little a day, but must log their miles to be added up at the end of the month. Leyva’s goal for this year’s campaign is 800 miles and $1,000.

As he bikes through the streets, parks and along the Los Angeles River, Leyva’s colleagues, friends, family and strangers are able to donate to his cause.

Since the organization runs in three countries, each one is assigned a specific month to fundraise for. This June will be USA and all the proceeds of the fundraising will be sent to cancer kids here in the States. Canada will follow in July, as cyclers fundraise for Canadian kids.  

During an interview, Leyva specifically highlighted the importance of being physically fit and ready for such a challenge.

Almost every morning, he wakes up super early to make it to training, where he will spend the next two hours riding his bike. He often takes a 10 minute break during those two hours, but says that a break is not too important as the end goal is greater than any kind of tiredness he will feel.

He even made jokes about the fact that after the month of practicing and another month of cycling, the cycler sheds many pounds and becomes very fit.

Joining such an organization was not a hard decision for him, as he had personal reasons to fight for childhood diseases.

When Sharon, his then 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with crohn’s disease, Victor’s world came crashing down. He recalls the sense of despair that took over him and his wife, after which an urge to make a difference came about. It wasn’t only his daughter that contributed to his decision to join the campaign, as he remembered about his sister, who had fought and won a long battle against breast cancer.

“She was very close to die, she got aggressive cancer and she is an inspiration for me as well,” Leyva said. “I have two people in my family and want to do something for these ladies.”

During the eight years of treatment for crohn’s disease and a few surgeries performed on her daughter, Victor remembered the feeling he got when he would walk in through the doors of the local Kaiser.

“I went with her [Sharon] to many chemotherapy sessions and I saw many kids there,’’ he said. “I said I want to do something for these guys.”

And so he did. In the past two years, he has worked alongside with teams, raising more than $2,000 himself alone, for cancer kids across the nation .  

Last year, he cycled 700 miles of his 500 mile goal. As a reward, pictures of top cyclers were projected on big screens in Brooklyn for the public to see and admire.

Having gone through the pain of a loved one being sick, has motivated Victor to never give up. He even remembers that his daughter almost spent her quinceañera in the hospital. Fortunately, she was able to leave and spend the day like she was supposed to, surrounded with her loved ones, feeling like a princess.

Leyva does not plan on giving up on the cause anytime soon. As he prepares for the big month of June, he encourages everyone to contribute to his cause in any amount possible.

Go to http://bit.ly/HelpVictorGCC to help Leyva’s cause.

Marian Sahakyan can be reached at [email protected]

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Marian Sahakyan, Editor-in-Chief

Growing up in a big family of journalists and writers, Marian developed her love for writing and reporting since early childhood. She is often found in...

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Fighting Cancer, One Mile at a Time