Jennifer Goodman Linn, who founded the most successful patient-run fundraiser in the history of New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, raising millions of dollars to combat so-called "rare" cancers, died at age 40 on Wednesday, July 20, after seven years of living with the disease.
"Jen taught us all to live fearlessly, and that each of us has the power to truly make a difference," read a statement posted on the website of Cycle for Survival, the charity founded by Linn. "She inspired us and countless others, and words cannot express how deeply she will be missed."
In 2004, Linn was diagnosed with sarcoma, a soft-tissue cancer that was attacking her abdomen, and she founded Cycle for Survival in 2007. Initially a grass-roots, indoor cycling event run mainly by Linn's close friends and family members, Cycle for Survival grew quickly into a landmark annual event on the cancer fundraising calendar. The latest group of Cycle for Survival events, held last February and March, raised close to $5 million and were staged in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, Chicago, San Francisco and other locations around the United States and internationally.
In total, Cycle for Survival has generated in excess of $9 million, all of which has been donated to Memorial Sloan-Kettering, where Linn was a patient. Proceeds from the events are allocated to the most promising research and clinical trials of rare cancers, which are far more prevalent than the term implies. More than half of cancer patients have a form of the disease considered "rare", including sarcoma, pancreatic, uterine, cervical, brain, metastatic melanoma, stomach cancer, as well as all pediatric cancers.
Jennifer Goodman was born on March 21, 1971, in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. She lived most of her childhood in Livingston, New Jersey, graduating from Livingston High School. She attended Duke University and, later, Harvard Business School, where she met her husband, David Linn, who survives her.
From the moment of her first diagnosis, Linn adhered to a life philosophy which she later memorialized in her personal website, YouFearless.com. "I will be a living role model to others," Linn wrote, "demonstrating that without fear, anything is possible." As Cycle for Survival grew in prominence and notoriety, Linn was its public face, her life story appearing in Redbook, Self, The Wall Street Journal, and on the Today Show, even as she was enduring years of chemotherapy treatments and multiple surgeries.
A marketer by trade, Linn became an award-winning motivational speaker, and she was inducted into the Livingston High School Hall of Fame in 2010. Linn was the recipient of Self Magazine's Do Good Award in 2008, was named one of Kraft Foods' 100 Extraordinary Women in 2009, and was inducted into the Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame. She also was presented with the Wynona M. Lipman Empowerment Award by the State of New Jersey in 2008.
Linn is survived by her husband David, of Manhattan, her parents, Leonard and Sandra Goodman, of Livingston, NJ, and an older brother, Brett Goodman, of North Caldwell, NJ.
This obituary was contributed by the friends and family of Jennifer Goodman Linn.