Why I Ride: Christina McCrohan


“I see these incredible clinical scientific teams working together on the new research.”

As she prepares to ride in her sixth Breakthrough Challenge, Christina McCrohan is thinking about the many people who inspire her — from her two grandparents who passed away from cancer to her supportive family, to the many patients, caregivers, and researchers she has developed meaningful relationships with through her job at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center (ACC).

Starting with her very first year taking part in the Breakthrough Challenge, Christina has dedicated her rides to her grandmother, whose passing from cancer sparked her motivation to begin working at the ACC. There, her career path focused on supporting patients with cancer and their families, and she now serves as Associate Director of Global Education in the Department of Radiation Oncology.

Witnessing the impact of the ride daily at the ACC is also a huge source of inspiration for Christina. “I see these incredible clinical scientific teams working together on the new research and anything that they get to develop from all of these funds goes such a long way,” she says. Christina emphasizes that one of the special things that stands out to her about the Breakthrough Challenge is that 100% of participant-raised funds go directly to the ACC and its work to advance groundbreaking research initiatives.

Christina rides with a team within her department called the Beam of Life, which is made up of patients, caregivers, family and friends of patients and caregivers, and physicians and staff.  Christina joined the team — even taking on the role of co-captain in her first year — after being encouraged to overcome her nervousness about cycling 12 miles by Bill Barbour, a member of the board of directors of the Breakthrough Challenge. 

As the Beam of Light co-captain, Christina enjoys coordinating social rides leading up the event where other participants can find support and have fun while they train. She encourages everyone to join in, saying she is living proof that people who don’t cycle on a regular basis can still make an important contribution. She also is proud of the many different ways her family members now love participating every year. 

 “When anyone in my particular family becomes involved in something, it then becomes a family event,” she says.

Christina’s father took part in previous years riding alongside her and helping to fundraise, her mother and sister have volunteered at the in-person ride, her husband helps host fundraisers, and her in-laws support, with her father-in-law having participated in the event too.

This year, Christina’s father is providing extra inspiration as she is dedicating her ride to him while he recovers from a stroke.

 “There’s definitely a lot of emotion being able to ride for him. He was THE dad who would take all the kids on the block around on our bikes through the city. The feeling after the race that you’ve done it and accomplished it for a person is so nice. He’ll definitely be with me while I’m training and while I’m getting ready leading up to the ride,” says Christina.