West Fight On began in 2013 as a small bike ride to raise money for cancer research and patient services. What was then a 54-person fundraiser has now transformed into a massive city-wide fundraising event, with 1,500 participants, multiple running and cycling race options, and a vast, fun-filled after-party.

West Fight On is organized by the West Cancer Foundation, which opened in January 2020. The namesake for the organization is Dr. West, who founded the West Cancer Clinic in 1979 to honor his late mother, who lost her battle to breast cancer. West Fight On is unique because it is the only local event that raises money specifically for cancer treatment, resources, and research, with the goal of bringing the Memphis community together in the fight against cancer. 

An exemplary athlete that supports the mission of West Cancer Foundation and West Fight On is one of the event’s co-chairs, Richard Murphy. Richard is a renowned local marathon and ultramarathon runner, currently working towards his goal of running all of the World Marathon Majors (WMM).

Richard’s identity as a runner began in graduate school when he initially began as a triathlete. Recognizing that he did not have the time and energy to train to his full capacity in swimming, cycling, and running, Richard decided to pursue running exclusively. “Running gave me the best fitness benefits in the least time and equipment,” he remembers. 

He initially ran casually, sometimes competing in local 5K races and running when he had free time with no real training plan. Richard cut back on running when his children were young but decided to pick it back up in 2005 and realized he could barely run two miles without stopping. Since then, Richard has competed in a staggering number of 5Ks, 10Ks, marathons, and ultramarathons. 

Along with the physical benefits of running, Richard also found that running provides mental benefits. After losing a close friend to cancer, running was one way that Richard found helpful in coping with the tragedy. When one of his running friends reached out to see if he was interested in supporting West Fight On, Richard knew this was a great opportunity to give back to the survivorship community and continue to honor the life of the friend he lost to cancer. 

“West Fight On is unique in that it is focused on being a celebration of survivorship. Besides running and biking, the real focus is the after party where families, friends, and survivors can all share in community and positivity,” Richard says. 

Leighanne Soden, President of the West Cancer Foundation, is thankful for Richard’s impact on the fundraiser. “Richard has become a leader in helping put this event on, and his passion for exercise and the survivorship community helps to make West Fight On so successful.”

West Fight On is September 7 at Shelby Farms Park. Join the fight against cancer by visiting Westfighton.org and signing up to help make a difference today!