By Lauren Pastrana


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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Whether you run, walk or ride, the Dolphins Cancer Challenge is almost ready to hit the road.

Thousands of people are expected to lace up for the 9th annual event to benefit the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

One young woman is participating for the very first time after her own cancer battle.

Sonia Rodriguez is just a couple months shy of her high school graduation. But before she gets her diploma, she plans to cross another finish line at the 9th annual DCC.

“I’m going to do the run, yes, and then hopefully speak,” Sonia said.

It will be her first time participating in the challenge, which includes a 5K for runners and walkers, and multiple routes up to 100 miles for cyclists.

“I’m super excited. I’ve heard non-stop amazing things about this. I can’t wait to participate,” she explained.

The DCC is personal to Sonia, now in remission after her own cancer battle.

She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 16 years old.

She underwent surgery and chemo at “Alex’s Place”, the pediatric hematology-oncology clinic at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

“Right now I feel great. I feel so good. I’m super thankful and appreciative for everything that I have now,” she said.

Sonia credits her team of doctors and nurses at Alex’s Place for making a scary and challenging situation a bit easier on her and her entire family.

“She has this spunk,” said Dr. Julio C. Barredo. “That and her posse, who isn’t here today. But, it wasn’t easy. But she has her whole life ahead of her.”

While she’ll be running for herself, she’ll also be honoring her grandmother, who died of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008.

Sonia says her diagnosis and treatment changed her life.

“It’s changed me for the better. Before this, I wanted to be a vet. After I went through all this and seeing all the patients, I just want to be able to help people as much as I can,” she said.

In fact, Sonia says she now wants to become a pediatric oncologist.

DCC IX weekend kicks off on April 5th with a big party at Hard Rock Stadium.

The ride and run is Saturday, April 6th.

So far, more than $2.5 million has been raised this year alone!

For information on how to sign up and donate, visit dolphinscancerchallenge.com.

Lauren Pastrana

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