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Meet Anne Marbarger of Padres Pedal the Cause in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anne Marbarger.

Anne, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I moved to San Diego three years ago from Washington, DC to work for Pedal the Cause, a non-profit that raises money for cancer research in San Diego. Along with moving two dogs and our home across country, I transitioned from working at a big four consulting firm with thousands of people in DC to the 5 person non-profit in Solana Beach that puts on an annual cycling event to raise funding for research. Fast forward three years and the organization has co-branded with the Padres to become Padres Pedal the Cause and we’ve raised over $7 million to fund collaborative high-risk, high-reward cancer research in San Diego.

I’m very thankful we made the decision to move to San Diego where the energy for start-ups and innovation is so positive. Having worked in major bureaucracies in Washington where the impact felt hard to measure, it’s so rewarding to work with a lean and nimble team that has a direct impact on cutting-edge cancer research in this amazing community. My roots to Padres Pedal actually go back to middle school where I had the good fortune of babysitting our founder and his wife’s–Amy & Bill Koman–kids. I lived across the street from this young, success, community-driven couple who happened to need an occasional babysitter for their three adorable girls. I always respected the Koman’s values and was inspired to be around them. We stayed in touch and when I called Bill in 2015 for mentoring, he suggested I move to San Diego to help with Pedal the Cause. Here I am, and there’s no looking back.

Has it been a smooth road?
My fit with the organization and our key stakeholders (i.e. the board of directors, the San Diego Padres, the beneficiary institutions we fund, our corporate sponsors, and our teams of participants) has been very smooth and the most rewarding and invigorating part of this journey.

Like any young organization, we too face our challenges which boil down to three main areas:
1. The high volume of events and non-profits that take place in San Diego. Our community has a ton of non-profits that support very important missions and causes.

Between non-profit fundraising events and all the other recreational and tasting events, there’s a lot of competition in the marketplace vying for people’s time and attention.

2. Organizational change. We’ve gone through quite a bit of change in moving our event to Petco Park, rebranding as Padres Pedal the Cause, changing our cycling routes and introducing non-cycling components like spin classes and a 5K walk, plus changes in staff and board expansion. It’s all for the good, though also resource intensive.

3. Communicating the outcomes of cancer research in a way that captures attention and interest. Cancer is something that affects everyone either directly through family members or indirectly through friends, colleagues, classmates. In that sense, our mission is something that can appeal to the whole community; however, communicating the importance of research and the outcomes of the projects we fund can be complex and challenging. We are getting better each year!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Padres Pedal the Cause story. Tell us more about the business.
We are a five-woman non-profit that puts on an annual celebration at Petco Park to raise money for cancer research. 100% of what we raise stays in the San Diego community and goes straight to researchers at four institutions: Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, Salk Institute, Sanford Burnham Prebys, and Rady Children’s Hospital. We are different from other organizations in that we believe collaboration will accelerate cures and therefore fund collaborative projects that are likely to turn seed funding from Padres Pedal the Cause into major investment grants from NIH. In five years, we’ve donated over $7.1 million and funded 42 collaborative research projects.

Our celebration at Petco Park includes opportunities for all families and companies–anyone who’s been touched by cancer–to get involved. These include four cycling routes that all cross the Coronado Bay Bridge, spin classes on centerfield, a family-friendly 5K walk/run, and kids challenge on bikes and tricycles. All participants end on centerfield at Petco Park for an afternoon of celebrating to live music, complimentary food and beer/wine, and a mission-oriented inspirational program.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
In the non-profit space, I think we will see the emergence of a small group of highly impactful, locally focused fundraising organizations pull ahead of the sea of other contenders.


  • Registration fees for the Padres Pedal spin classes and 5K walk/run are $75.
  • Registration fees for the Padres Pedal cycling routes are $125.
  • All participants commit to a fundraising minimum, ranging from $250-$1,500. 100% of all fundraising dollars go directly to cancer research.

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