The Closer to Free Ride presented by Bank of America is first-and-foremost a fundraising event. The dollars our riders and volunteers raise will provide essential support for the world-class research and patient care at New England’s most comprehensive cancer center, Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.

Each rider is required to raise a minimum of $500 to help support Smilow. That might sound like a big challenge, but in 2018 the average Closer to Free Rider raised more than $1,200! If you follow the tips below and engage your entire network of friends, family and colleagues, you’ll be well on your way to meeting (and exceeding!) your goal. We encourage you to share your personal story because that's what will help you raise more money more quickly. You can easily personalize your Fundraising Page with photos and videos to help encourage your friends and family to support your efforts.

We know you work hard to raise the funds required to ride, so we want to make sure you know that 100% of the money you raise goes directly to Smilow Cancer Hospital.

Several important departments and programs receive funding from the Ride.  Find out more about how the funds are used here.


Not sure what to say in your fundraising emails and letters? Let us help you. We've collected some real life fundraising letters from your fellow riders so that you can get a sense of how to write yours...


Tina's Story

Dear Supporters!

Smilow Cancer Hospital has played a big part in our lives over the last year and a half.  They saved Scott's life through chemo, a stem cell transplant, and patient support services.  They guided the girls and me along the way with family support, art therapy, and even a visit from a therapy dog.  Now, Scott's sister, Suzy, is blazing her own trail at Smilow as she receives treatment for Angioimmunoblastic T-Cell Lymphoma.  She, too, will receive a stem cell transplant this summer.  We are incredibly grateful for all of the support, guidance and yes, love, that Smilow has shown us along the way.

On September 7th, I will be participating in the Closer to Free Ride for Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven. 

100 percent of the dollars I raise will directly support patient care and research at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center.  The dollars I raise will help people like Scott and Suzy.  And maybe people you love, too.

I have committed to raising $1,000 and I hope you'll help me reach (or even exceed) that goal. You can visit my fundraising website to help out or join my team and ride along with me!

Thank you for your support!

Lots of love,

Stacey's Story

Dear Friends,

On September 7th, I will be participating in the Closer to Free Ride for Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven. This will be my fourth year riding my bike in memory of my husband, Carl Hubbard. Carl Passed away in July, 2012  only 7 short months after being diagnosed with cancer. 

Our team, Carl's Crusaders, was created in his memory. I have committed to raising $1,000 and I hope you'll help me beat that goal. Any size donation is appreciated. 100 percent of the dollars I raise for the Ride will directly support patient care and research at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center, an institution we are so lucky to have within our reach.

Cancer touches so many people in our community and the Closer to Free Ride is a great way to help fight this terrible disease. Please seriously consider my request and let your neighbors and community know that you are joining in the cause. 

If you would like more information about the event and/or are interested in joining my team, please contact me at [insert email and phone number].  I encourage you to visit my personal fundraising web page online. [enter fundraising page URL]

Together we can bring the world closer to free!


Rachel's Story

Dear Family and Friends,

As many of you already know, I am involved in fundraising for the Closer to Free Ride for Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven Hospital.  For those of you who are not familiar with where the money raised goes, one hundred percent of the funds raised by Riders and Volunteers goes to research and patient care at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center. Funds raised previously have benefited programs and initiatives including Advanced Cell Therapy, Survivorship and funding lab start-ups.  

I am asking you to support me this year by giving a donation in support of my participation in the event.  I will again be riding 100 miles on my bicycle.

I thank you for your time and consideration.  I look forward to any support you can provide. Let's make this world One Step Closer To Free From Cancer. 





How to Achieve My Goal



Start with your own donation of $10



Ask 3 family members to sponsor you for $25



Ask 5 friends to sponsor you for $20



Ask 5 co-workers to sponsor you for $10



Ask 5 neighbors to sponsor you for $20



Ask 4 people from religious or other organizations to sponsor you for $10



Ask your boss for a company contribution of $50 and ask if your company has a matching gift program.



Ask 3 businesses you frequent for $25 (doctor, dentist, hair stylist, dry cleaner, mechanic, coffee shop)



Fundraising Total


If you’ve got a house (or an apartment or a roof over your head) then we’ve got a great way for you to up your fundraising and get more people involved in your Closer to Free Ride.

Here’s how it works:  You pick a date and a location and invite all of your friends.  We send a member of the Closer to Free Ride team along with a veteran rider, plus some cool CTF Ride swag to give out as prizes.  You can do pot luck or order in or get folks to contribute to cover party costs.  We show a cool video and talk about the Ride and why your guests should support your fundraising efforts.  Your guests rush to their laptops and phones and donate furiously.  You don’t have to ask for a dime.  Simple, right?

What you need:
A house (or other gathering place)
A DVD player (or Apple TV or other fancy streaming device)
Party guests
and to be ready to have loads of fun!

There are only a limited amount of House Parties our team can get to and parties are scheduled on a first come basis so if you’re interested, send us an email to and one of our staff members will be in touch about details.

You can either drop offline donations at our office during normal business hours OR mail them to our office.

Download an Offline Donation Form Here.

Selina Lewis Building
1st Floor, Room H121
659 George Street
New Haven, CT 06511

…or you can mail them to us:

YNHH Office of Development
PO Box 1849
New Haven, CT 06508

Either way, please be sure to include a donation form available in your Participant Dashboard in the resources section.


Fundraising Tips

  • Take advantage of your online fundraising page. It’s easy to set up and even easier to get your family and friends to click and donate. A recent study showed that participants who raise money online raise almost five times as much as those who only raise money offline. And if you use a personal photo and language on your page, your odds of raising more funds go way up.
  • Develop a short “elevator speech” which quickly and succinctly relates why you’re riding and raising funds for Smilow Cancer Hospital. The clearer and more personal your pitch, the more successful you’ll be.  Make sure you tell a story about why YOU are participating.
  • Make a list of everyone you know. Really, everyone. Your family, your co-workers, your high school boyfriend, your barber, your mechanic, your daughter’s best friend’s mother, everyone. Send a Facebook message, an email, a snail mail or drop off a letter to every one of them. You never know where your greatest support might come from, because you don’t know who in your community has been touched by cancer.
  • Use your social media network to spread the word that you’re riding. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have proven to be successful and easy fundraising platforms. Be sure to provide a link to your personal fundraising page.
  • Remember that you’ll never raise a dime from someone you don’t ask.
  • Merchants you patronize are always good resources for donations.
  • Keep in touch with your donor base through emails as you get closer to the Ride.
  • Make sure you thank each and every one of your donors after the Ride. That also helps seed the idea that you might be back to ask for their support again next year.

Safety Tips 

On the Closer to Free Ride, nothing is more important than your safety. Let us say that one more time: NOTHING IS MORE IMPORANT THAN YOUR SAFETY. We’ll reinforce our safety tips and regulations many times before you leave the Yale Bowl on Ride day, but please review and become familiar with the following to ensure that everyone has a safe and healthy ride.

  • This is a ride and not a race. There is no clock. There is no “winner.” Don’t ride out of control or beyond your abilities.

  • Listen to your body, stay hydrated and rest when you need to rest. We want to see all of you at the finish line.

  • Always wear your helmet. Always wear your helmet. Did we mention to ALWAYS WEAR YOUR HELMET?

  • Get your bike checked out by your favorite bike shop before the day of the Ride to make sure it’s safe and ready to go. If you need a bike shop, a few of our favorites are Devil's Gear in New Haven, Zane's Cycles in Branford, and D'Aniellos Amity Bicycles in Woodbridge.

  • Except for the first portion of the route, you’ll be riding on roads that are open to traffic. When a vehicle and a bicycle collide, the bicycle (and its rider) ALWAYS LOSES.

  • Be aware of vehicles at every moment and follow all traffic rules and signals (including stop signs!).

  • Make eye contact with drivers at intersections and do not continue forward unless you’re positive that the driver sees you.

  • You need to have all of your senses alert and ready while you ride, so NO EARPHONES may be used during the Ride.

  • If you want to make or take a phone call or send a text, pull over to the side of the road first. DO NOT USE A MOBILE DEVICE WHILE YOU’RE RIDING.

  • Ride single file and use hand signals and verbal cues to alert other riders.

  • When passing another rider (always on the left), be sure to call out “ON YOUR LEFT” in a loud and clear voice.

  • Alert riders behind you to debris or other obstacles in the road by pointing to the obstacle and calling out, “glass!” or “obstacle!”

  • You can learn more about cycling safely at

Remember, nothing is more important than your safety!

Training Tips 

Depending on your level of fitness, riding 10, 25, 40, 65 or 100 miles might be a lifelong challenge conquered or just another day on your bike. Either way, we want to make sure that you are adequately trained before you take on the Closer to Free Ride presented by Bank of America.

Our training rides are the best way to get in shape for the Ride and meet members of our community. Training rides are for participants of all skill levels and often ride on the actual Ride route.  You can find our updated calendar of training rides here.

Important Training Notes:

  • Adjust your training to your level of fitness

  • Always hydrate during training

  • Practice your verbal/hand signals during your training rides

  • Obey all the rules of the road

  • The hills are your friends during training because they’ll certainly be there on Ride Day

  • Bicycling Magazine has a handy 8-week guide to training for a Century Ride (which can be adjusted to your desired distance).

You can find a full calendar of training rides and clinics here.