Going the distance: Cycling enthusiast touched by cancer applies his passion to raise funds for Stanford Cancer Institute

With a firm belief that our purpose here on Earth is to give back to others, John Tarlton’s personal and professional philosophies are guided by how he can achieve as many worthwhile goals as possible, across both fronts, simultaneously.

John Tarlton

Personal experiences spark a passion

Tarlton, the CEO of Tarlton Properties, has learned from experience how precious longevity is. He lost both his mother and his sister to cancer, and credits the care they received at Stanford with prolonging their lives.

“My mother and sister received amazing care at Stanford,” he says. “We’ve all been touched by cancer. It was both a wake up call for me, and an inspiration. The question becomes, what are we going to do about it?”

A gifted athlete who is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle—his collegiate sport was cycling—Tarlton leverages this passion for health by using his athletic ability to raise awareness and resources for the Stanford Cancer Institute. To date, he has participated in five endurance cycling events and donated one hundred percent of the funds raised to research at the institute.

“While I’m not built to go as fast on the bike as some others, it turns out that I’m built to go a really, really long way on the bike,” says the slim vegetarian. He started out with double centuries, then to 500-mile rides, and then to the Everest of cycling: Race Across America. In addition to that grueling ride, he has raised funds for Stanford Cancer through the Ironman Tahoe, the Tahoe Midnight Express, Santa Barbara 100, and Race Across the West. Next year, he plans to ride the Race Across America again.

A model for living and giving

Tarlton has many strong family connections to Stanford, beginning with his grandmother Betty, who graduated from Stanford in 1940, and including his parents and several other extended family members.

“I really like the idea that we are raising money for the Stanford Cancer Institute in this way. The way we are giving back to cancer research being led at Stanford is not only beneficial to me in terms of my health and my passion for finding better ways to prevent and treat cancer, but also hopefully serves as a model for my team and others in how we can live our lives in a sustainable way that results in a long and healthy life,” says Tarlton.

“Sometimes, we can fall into a trap of believing that we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. When in fact, the reverse is true. We can’t afford not to. We cannot serve our function of giving back if we don’t first take care of ourselves.”

A cycle of support for innovation

Tarlton emphasizes that Stanford has always excelled at bringing world-class thinkers together to create new ideas and new ways of attacking problems, with its cross-disciplinary approach to inventing new devices, modalities, instruments, and tests to benefit patients.

“That creates opportunities for cooperation that results in more good ideas flowing out of Stanford,” he says.

“It’s natural for a donor to want their dollars to make the broadest possible impact. What better way than to give to an organization that is focused on the largest and most difficult disease? Stanford is a medical research university that has demonstrated its preeminence in translating research into improving patient outcomes and quality of life, and lowering the cost of health care. If you’re going to give, why not give to the place that is going to have the broadest impact?”