Former Livingston resident Jennifer Goodman Linn, a Manhattan resident who founded the most successful patient-run fund-raiser in the history of New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center — raising millions of dollars to combat rare forms of cancer — died on July 20, 2011, at age 40.
Born in Glen Ridge, she spent most of her childhood in Livingston, graduating from Livingston High School. She attended Duke University and, later, Harvard Business School, where she met her husband, David Linn, who survives her.
“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 she founded. “She inspired us and countless others, and words cannot express how deeply she will be missed.”
In 2004, Linn was diagnosed with MFH Sarcoma — a disease so rare it affects fewer than 1 percent of all cancer victims. She founded Cycle for Survival in 2007. Initially a grassroots, indoor cycling event run mainly by friends and family members, Cycle for Survival grew into a landmark annual event. 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 and New Jersey and in locations around the United States and the world.
In total, Cycle for Survival has generated more than $9 million, all of which has been donated to Memorial Sloan-Kettering, where Linn was a patient. Event proceeds are allocated to the most promising research and clinical trials of so-called rare or “orphan” cancers — which more than half of cancer patients have a form of — including sarcoma, metastatic melanoma, and pancreatic, uterine, cervical, brain, and stomach cancers, as well as all pediatric cancers.
“My doctors like to say that the ‘titans of industry’ throw their stock options at things like breast cancer and lung cancer,” Linn told New Jersey Jewish News for a profile that appeared in the Jan. 17, 2008, issue. “But there are a lot of cancers out there that we need to know more about.”
From the moment of her first diagnosis, Linn adhered to a life philosophy that 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, Linn was its public face, her life story profiled in Redbook, Self, The Wall Street Journal, and on the Today Show, even as she was enduring years of chemotherapy treatments and multiple surgeries.
“Jen truly was a remarkable person and touched everyone she met, and also didn’t meet, through her blog — YouFearless.com,” said longtime friend Jeanne Silberman, who cochairs Cycle for Survival’s NJ satellite branch. “She taught us all to strive to live a fearless life — if we could all live the way Jen did there is nothing we couldn’t accomplish,” Silberman told NJJN.
A marketer by trade, Linn became an award-winning motivational speaker and 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 received the Wynona M. Lipman Empowerment Award by the State of New Jersey in 2008.
Linn is also survived by her parents, Leonard and Sandra Goodman of Livingston, and a brother, Brett Goodman of North Caldwell.
Services were held July 22 with arrangements by Riverside Memorial Chapel, Manhattan. Memorial donations may be made to Cycle for Survival, Jennifer Goodman Linn Memorial Fund, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (www.CycleforSurvival.org).