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BIG Challenge 2017

BIG Challenge, farmers against cancer

Pig farmers, dairy farmers, beef farmers, poultry farmers, crop farmers, horticulturists, veterinarians, feed consultants, accountants, financial advisers, researchers from the Netherlands, Germany and France, all working together to end the misery and powerlessness in our society caused by cancer. 

This disease hits 1 out of 3 and has massive consequences not only for the victim but also for family, friends and colleagues. That’s why on 31 May and 1 June 2017 about 160 cyclists and runners, all in some way connected to the farming sector, will cycle as often as possible up the Alpe d’Huez. Their goal: collecting as much money as possible to aid cancer research toward living Well, Happily and Healthily with Cancer.
 
Over 6.4 million euros 
Herman Houweling initiated BIG Challenge. He began the campaign in 2009 and in that same year managed to raise 113,000 euros all by himself! After that BIG Challenge really took off: during the past seven editions more than 1.000 BIG Challenge participants collected a total of 6.4 million euros for Alpe d’HuZes/KWF. An important point is that Alpe d’HuZes and BIG Challenge have a strict anti-rake-off policy: 100% of the contributions goes to the research fund. 
Have a look at www.opgevenisgeenoptie.nl for more info.

Goal 2017
During Alpe d’HuZes 2017, BIG Challenge wants to raise at least 800,000 euros by cycling or running up Alpe d’Huez. To reach this goal BIG Challenge will approach a lot of sponsors and in the months before the actual event there will be several sponsor activities, like a sponsor symposium and a number of pig races. During these events money will be raised, but these events will also spread the word about this initiative that started in the farming sector.

Farewell to four champions 
In 2010 we said good-bye to Herman himself. He had lost his own personal struggle. Herman passed away on 18 January 2010 as a result of intestinal cancer. Sadly, a number of other enthusiastic BIG Challenge participants have also passed away. On 14 January 2011 we had to take leave of Hans Banken. He died of complications arising from a bone marrow transplantation. 
On 19 April 2014 our super-volunteer Geertjan van Groenland passed away. Geertjan had oesophageal cancer. Cyclist Nico Kooter died on 19 May 2014 as a result of a malignant brain tumour. These champions will not be forgotten. Every year BIG Challenge will commemorate them at the motivational meeting during the Alpe d’HuZes week.  

ZLTO Award for best Initiative
Aside from the fact that BIG Challenge aims to collect as much money as possible for cancer research, it also wants to promote the sector to as large an audience as possible and to increase the awareness and appreciation of the sector. The BIG Challenge campaign had a lot of support among the pig farmers. That is why in December 2010 BIG Challenge won the ZLTO award for Best Initiative. This award is aimed at initiatives that promote the social appreciation of the pig farming sector.

Herman’s Wish
In 2009 Herman was the face of Alpe d’HuZes. Every year at Alpe d’HuZes Herman was there at full power. His name is still used when cyclists and runners help each other when the going gets tough. To help each other to the top is called ‘to give one a Hermannetje’
BIG Challenge is fully devoted to making Herman’s wish come true: ‘ To change cancer from a terminal decease to a chronic disease. That takes a lot of money. I want to be able to say with pride, that the Dutch pig farming sector made a vital contribution to the fight against cancer.’
By now the BIG Challenge campaign has spread to many more sectors in the Dutch agricultural market. Herman would have been very proud!

Research goals
Where does the money go?
A-CaRe: 
Alpe d'HuZes Cancer Rehabilitation Program. A rehabilitation program for all cancer patients, paid for by health insurance.
Chair ‘Living with Cancer’:
Psychosocial care for cancer patients during and after their treatment (how to deal with your disease and the people around you) 
Chair ‘Cancer and Food’:
Research programs for good nutrition for cancer patients (i.e. not prevention).
Rapid diagnosis:
More and more hospitals are changing their procedures to be able to diagnose within 2 days if cancer is suspected.
Bas Mulder Award:
Three young researchers doing pioneering cancer research. This award was named after Alpe d’HuZes cyclists Bas Mulder, who died of cancer at the age of 24.

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