Music manager Jeff Castelaz is making preparations to embark on his tenth ride in honor of his son Pablo Castelaz, supporting the charity created to honor the six-year-old who passed away in 2009 from bilateral Wilms Tumor, a rare form of childhood cancer.
“The first year was really just me going out on a journey that was both personal and very public,” Castelaz tells Billboard, describing the 3,100 ride from St. Augustine, Florida to Los Angeles in 2009 that included former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong and became a national story after being covered by ABC Nightly News. This year, Castelaz and 50 other cyclists are preparing to embark on Pablove Across America’s tenth ride, raising money to invest in underfunded pediatric cancer research, education and quality of life improvements through the arts for young cancer patients. This year’s ride begins Sept. 30 in San Rafael, California and ends seven days later in Los Angeles with the goal of raising $1 million.
“The ride is roughly 100 miles a day with about 35,000 feet of elevation gain, which is a hell of a lot of elevation change in a week,” said Castelaz, who runs management firm Cast Management with clients that include Dropkick Murphys, Violent Femmes, KT Tunstall and Blues Traveler. Castelaz co-founded the Pablove Foundation in May 2008 with his former wife and Pablo’s mom Jo Ann Thrailkill, who is chief executive at the Pablove Foundation.
"Pablo has been gone for 10 years and we have tried to carry Pablo's heart, Pablo’s name and what Pablo stood for as a little boy across the country on this ride. It is really beautiful but it's bittersweet. We always know that we're riding for kids like Pablo who are in hospital beds all over the world and kids who will be diagnosed with cancer."
The Pablove Foundation has given away nearly $3 million to support cancer research, often allocated in $50,000 seed grants to cutting edge scientists and researchers.
“We kind of operate like an indie label,” said Castelaz, who founded Dangerbird Records in 2004 and spent several years running Elektra before exiting in 2015 to focus full time on management and the Pablove Foundation. "We're putting up small grants for new innovative science and funding young researchers. We're acting the way Dangerbird used to when we would sign a band like Silversun Pickups or Fitz and the Tantrums, building a business out of a band that nobody else would think about. With the Pablove Foundation, we’re funding researchers that other people just aren't looking at. And we've had a number of researchers go on to get published, which is a big deal, and a number of researchers that have gone on to secure funding from large foundations and government agencies like the National Institutes of Health, and that's a direct result of this bike ride.
The Pablove Foundation utilizes a scientific advisory board comprised of oncologists and researchers that make recommendations to the foundation's board of directors on which projects should receive funding. Money raised from the ride also goes to the Pablove Shutterbugs, which teaches the art of photography to kids that have cancer. Each biker participating in the ride is tasked with raising a set amount for the charity, funded by individual donations to sponsored riders.
Castelaz said he’s watched his fellow riders be transformed by the experience of cycling on long road trips, riding hundreds of miles at a time through all types of conditions.
“When we're doing it for a purpose greater than ourselves, it becomes a really significant thing,” said Castelaz. "We're in a business that is unbelievably self-centered and full of shit. And I include myself at the top of that list,” he says, laughing. “But this is something where people choose to get involved in what the Pablove Foundation does, with bikes, and have a chance to become part of a community and chip away at the narcissistic nonsense of the entertainment industry. There’s a lot of people who go around saying ‘we’re in the music business, we’re not curing cancer.' Here’s a chance for you to actually put your hand up and be part of an activity involved in attempting to cure cancer, and that’s a pretty cool thing."
To learn more about Pablove Across America, and to donate, visit www.pablove.org