Cycle For Survival Stories: Ethan Zohn & Dave Linn

Ethan Zohn had just won Survivor and was in Japan covering the 2002 World Cup as a reporter, when he met Dave Linn and Jennifer Goodman Linn, who would found Cycle for Survival five years later. In the years since, Ethan and Dave have bonded “for life,” commiserating over cancer (which both Ethan and Jen were diagnosed with), playing soccer together around the world, and of course, raising millions of dollars for rare cancer research through Cycle for Survival. On the foundation of their friendship… “After [Jen] passed away, Dave picked up the reins with Cycle for Survival,” says Ethan. “I was still in survivorship mode, and then I relapsed, and throughout all of it we just became buddies. Dave received the AKTIV Against Cancer award last year and I was the emcee at the event—it was fun to give him the award and be a part of that whole event with him.” Now, the two are on the same soccer team that played a charity match in England a few months ago and will head to the Maccabiah Games in Israel this summer.  Dave sums it up: “We share a common dedication to helping other people.” On lessons that translate from sport to life… “The ability to have failure and be able to pick up the pieces and come back with 100% of the energy is something sports taught me, and helped me especially on my cancer journey,” says Ethan. “I couldn’t do it all myself. It was the doctors, it was Cycle for Survival, it was Dave, it was everyone out there helping me. Not only do you have to have the ability to be strong, resilient, and persistent, but also be able to reach out to ask for help." On support in both the good times and the bad… “For me, there’s nothing better than being on a team together trying to achieve a common goal which speaks to the value of friendship in good times, and there’s nothing more helpful during tough times [than] to have people that you can lean on,” says Dave. “And through the last 15 plus years, Ethan and I have been there for each other for both the good and bad times.” On Equinox as a training ground... “I lived in NYC for around 15 years and was an Equinox member the entire time. [Equinox] was hovering in the background of my stories—it’s where I trained for Survivor, Amazing Race, Cycle for Survival, and running the [New York City] Marathon.” On the power of Cycle for Survival… “Going through cancer is a lonely and isolating feeling,” says Ethan. “To rely on these complete strangers out there [at Cycle for Survival] to fund this research gave me the courage and confidence to fight like hell with this incredible community of cancer crushers behind me.” Dave seconds that sentiment: “I’ve heard from so many cancer patients that they walk into a Cycle for Survival event and they are often overwhelmed with emotion because (...) they feel the support of thousands of people who are there together with them every step of the way. That’s one of the reasons cancer patients and survivors tell me all the time that Cycle for Survival is their favorite day of the year—it’s the power of that community.” On Cycle for Survival in 2022…. “After the challenges of COVID I think it’s a huge year to energize this powerful community,” says Dave. “I think we should take the lessons from the pandemic and (...) come together to make the most of this year’s events. For me, one of the most powerful things is when you see Ethan speak to the crowd and tell them ‘Do you want to know where the money that you raise goes?’ and he says, ‘it’s in me, and it’s in people like me who are only here today because of the efforts of everyone who is supporting Cycle for Survival.’ For me that’s one of the many magical moments—when you have survivors like Ethan talk about where the money goes.” Hear More from Ethan and Dave on the Cancer Straight Talk Podcast from MSK.