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Since the first Closer to Free Ride in 2011, our riders, volunteers, sponsors and supporters have generated more than $26 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:

Innovative Clinical Trials

The goals of clinical trials are to study new treatments or medical interventions and, in many cases, to compare them with a standard therapy. Each study seeks to find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose, or treat cancer. Patients who take part in cancer clinical trials receive innovative care from experts with dedicated experience in the development of pioneering cancer treatments. Researchers at Yale Cancer Center are finding new ways to treat cancer and to give patients renewed hope for cure of their disease. This knowledge and research imparts a steady stream of new therapies and advances in patient care at Smilow Cancer Hospital and our Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Centers throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Cancer Genetics and Tumor Profiling

The Smilow Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program offers patients access to an interdisciplinary team that includes geneticists, genetic counselors, physicians, and nurses, work together with the goal of providing cancer risk assessment and taking steps to prevent the development of cancer. The Smilow Cancer Hospital Tumor Profiling Laboratory provides oncologists with detailed mutational profiles of a patients’ tumor so that treatment may be individually optimized--a process often referred to as personalized medicine. 

Immunotherapy and Targeted Therapies

Over the last decade, immunotherapy has become one of the biggest stories in cancer care. Some of the earliest clinical trials, as well as work on the biomarkers critical to these revolutionary treatments, were led by scientists at Yale Cancer Center. Immunotherapy can be used in many different tumor types to treat, and often provide cure, across a range of cancer types by stimulating a host response to destroy tumor. Targeted therapies, on the other hand, aim to inhibit certain pathways that stimulate cancer growth, and various drugs can be used to target these pathways and effectively treat cancer using an individualized approach.  The scientists at Yale Cancer Center work closely with clinicians at Smilow Cancer Hospital to bring new advances in immunotherapy and targeted therapies to our patients, often before the treatments are available anywhere else.

Cellular Therapies

Cellular therapies are designed to improve the immune system's ability to fight cancer. The CAR T-Cell Therapy Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital brings an innovative new immunotherapy treatment option to patients with certain blood cancers. This groundbreaking therapy is currently only available in Connecticut at Smilow Cancer Hospital and researchers at Yale are conducting clinical trials to test new CAR T-cell therapies against other cancers.  


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.

Palliative Care

The Palliative Care Service at Smilow Cancer Hospital provides comprehensive interdisciplinary care to patients and their families and 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 deals with physical issues such as pain, fatigue, and nausea; and also with 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.

Health Equity

The Center for Community Engagement and Health Equity within Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center, 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. The Center leverages a wide range of approaches to community-engaged research, community outreach, education, policy & advocacy, and access to clinical care.

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