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Since the first Closer to Free Ride in 2011, our riders, volunteers, sponsors and supporters have generated almost $30 million for the life-saving and life-changing work of Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center.

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, we are also proud to say that one hundred percent of the funds raised by Closer to Free riders and volunteers directly supports research and patient care at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center. Your contributions to the 2024 Closer to Free Ride may be used in 2024 and future years to support these important programs. Over the past thirteen years, the Closer to Free Ride funds have benefitted programs and initiatives including:

Innovation in Cancer Care

Cancer care delivery requires flexibility and innovation. The Closer to Free Ride provides funding support to ensure the leadership of Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center can implement new programs and capitalize on new knowledge to benefit our patients. Clinical initiatives including next day access for patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer, online appointment scheduling, and in home inpatient level care and infusion treatment are current priorities for Smilow Cancer Hospital. Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), telehealth, diagnostic tools, robotics, and digital pathology are improving the way we provide cancer care at our 16 Centers and Programs of Excellence across the Smilow Network with support from Closer to Free.

Bringing Equity to Cancer Care

The Center for Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE) builds on a longstanding commitment to high-quality, expert, and patient-centered cancer care, screening, and prevention across the state of Connecticut. The Center is dedicated to ensuring cancer health equity and improving outcomes, with an emphasis on traditionally underserved neighborhoods. Closer to Free supports CEHE’s community-engaged research, community outreach, and education, policy & advocacy efforts.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials study new treatments or medical interventions and, in many cases, compare them with a standard therapy. Each study seeks to find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose, or treat cancer. Researchers at Yale Cancer Center are finding new ways to treat cancer and to give patients renewed hope for cure of their disease. The knowledge and research gained through clinical trials inform new therapies and advances in patient care at our Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Centers.

Obesity Research

Obesity is linked to a higher risk of being diagnosed with 13 types of cancer. In addition, recent research from Yale concluded that obesity may worsen patients’ quality of life, prognosis, chance of cancer recurrence, and risk of second cancer diagnoses. Yale Cancer Center scientists are studying the impact of obesity on patients with cancer, and the ability to improve outcomes with weight loss. Clinically, Smilow Cancer Hospital collaborates with Yale New Haven Health’s Digestive Health Service to provide access to weight loss programs and counseling services for patients who are overweight.

Early-Onset Cancers

There is a growing population of patients diagnosed with cancer early in their life, specifically under the age of 45. Special consideration of the impact of cancer on young adults is needed and unique resources are required. Support from Closer to Free will help to organize specialty clinics for young adults with cancer and incorporate unique supportive care services tailored to this population.


The Closer to Free Fund supports survivorship care throughout the Smilow Cancer Network for anyone in need of survivorship care and resources. Our survivorship clinic is the first dedicated, multidisciplinary resource for cancer survivors in the State of Connecticut. The team provides patients and their families with vital information on cancer prevention, wellness, supportive services and the latest health research related to cancer survivorship. In addition, developing survivorship care plans are priority for all patients with cancer.

For additional information about Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center, please review our About Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center content or go to or