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Since the first Closer to Free Ride in 2011, our riders, volunteers, sponsors and supporters have generated more than $21 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. Over the past eleven years, the Closer to Free Ride funds have benefitted programs and initiatives including:



The Closer to Free Fund supports our Survivorship Clinic at Smilow Cancer Hospital, which is available to all cancer survivors.  The Survivorship Clinic is the first dedicated, multidisciplinary resource for cancer survivors in the State of Connecticut, providing patients and their families with vital information on cancer prevention, wellness, supportive services and the latest health research related to cancer survivorship. The Survivorship Clinic provides dedicated support services for cancer survivors with a focus on the prevention, detection and treatment of complications resulting from cancer treatment. These services include:

  • Personalized wellness education and follow-up planning
  • Psychosocial support for survivors and their families
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Exercise and fitness recommendations

Phase I Clinical Trials

The Phase I Clinical Trial Program at Yale Cancer Center evaluates new treatments and new combinations of therapies for patients whose cancer has not responded to standard treatment. The new therapies tested in clinical trials offer these patients another option as well as hope. The support from Closer to Free expands the number of Phase I trials we can make available to our patients, bringing more possible treatment options to cancer patients everywhere. Funds from the Ride supported the opening of a new Phase I Clinical Trial Infusion Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital. This center houses specialty-trained staff and dedicated infusion areas designed to support patients and their families through their clinical trial experience.  It is the only such center in Connecticut.

Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program

The funding from Closer to Free helps to provide genetic counseling support to patients at high-risk of developing cancer. The Smilow Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program is composed of an interdisciplinary team that includes geneticists, genetic counselors, physicians and nurses that work together with the goal of providing cancer risk assessment and working to prevent the development of hereditary cancers. Patients considered at risk for a familial or hereditary cancer receive genetic counseling and testing so informed medical decisions can be based on their own personal risk assessment.  These interventions can have a huge impact on a person’s life by allowing them to better manage their health and reduce their risk of ever developing cancer.

Research Initiatives

The following research programs have benefitted from Closer to Free Ride funds:

  • Leukemia and Lymphoma research program
  • Melanoma research program
  • Lung Cancer research program
  • Gastrointestinal Cancers research program

Palliative Care Support

The Palliative Care Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital focuses on symptom management and quality of life issues for adult patients with serious chronic progressive or terminal illnesses. The program is centered on the patient and their family, and helps to manage physical issues such as pain, fatigue, and nausea, and also psychosocial issues like depression, disruption of family life, and financial concerns. The support from the Closer to Free Ride has been crucial to expanding palliative care services throughout the Smilow Cancer Hospital Network and Yale New Haven Health System.

Brain Tumor Center

Our Brain Tumor Center places great emphasis on taking care of all our patients’ needs by complementing the best medical care available with a network of supportive care services. Because of the debilitating and long duration of treatment for many brain tumors, patients and families can apply for financial support to help offset expenses and travel during treatment, provided by generous donations, including from the Closer to Free Ride.

Melanoma Support

The Yale SPORE in Skin Cancer is a highly competitive grant from the National Cancer Institute to support multidisciplinary research to improve prevention and therapies for patients with melanoma. Specifically, our SPORE includes studies of novel sunscreens to prevent skin cancer, development of a liquid biopsy for metastatic melanoma, methods to determine who will or will not respond to immune therapy, and projects focusing on overcoming resistance to currently approved immune therapies. Additional support from the Closer to Free Ride will help to move these studies forward.  

Integrative Medicine Program

Smilow Cancer Hospital’s Integrative Medicine Program provides evidence-based guidance about complementary therapies commonly used by cancer patients and survivors in Connecticut and beyond. With support from Closer to Free, our integrative medicine team provides support to patients and their families to complement cancer treatment and address the serious physical and emotional symptoms often experienced by patients before, during, and after therapy. 

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