I have been an avid road bike rider for 40 years. I ride because it is the best thing I know to do for my physical and mental health, also, it can often be a great social activity and it is just fun! I lost my best friend John to cancer, he was 45 years old. When I heard that Smilow Cancer Hospital was starting a ride, here in my hometown, I signed up and joined the small but enthusiastic group that rolled out of the Bowl that morning. Over the last ten years cancer has continued to impact the lives of my friends and family. The need to support Smilow remains constant. Participating in the Closer to Free Ride has become an incredibly important part of my life, a goal to achieve and train for every year.
I am truly blessed to be able to ride in honor, in memory, and in support of dear loved ones who have been struck by cancer. The riders, volunteers, and CTF supporters who make this ride possible is what is truly special to me each year.
Everyone has been touched one way or another by cancer. I ride to remember family, friends and colleagues who have passed away and for the cancer survivors. 10 years ago my neighbor, who is a cancer survivor, told me her 10 year old son wanted to give me his birthday money if I would do the ride. That was our team’s motivation and we did the ride in honor of his mom.
I ride for those who can't. I work at Smilow, it's important to me to show our patients and my family that I care about those with cancer and lost to cancer.
I had never been on a road bike before but when I heard about the first CTF Ride, I thought what a great way to support our patients. I signed up and began sharing with patients that I’d be “taking them along for the ride”. I ride for our patients, for patients everywhere and for my loved ones and friends who have been affected by cancer.
There's so much about this ride that is special. I remember my first ride. I was still in treatment and was determined to ride. My family was at the gate waiting for me when I finished and I remember lots of tears, and an incredible feeling of gratitude. With each ride I am reminded of loved ones that I have lost the previous year and those of us who have been able to make it for another year. It's an overwhelming feeling, at times, of gratitude and sorrow all at once.
I joined the initial Closer to Free ride after a close family friend had passed away from cancer. I wanted to find a way to keep her memory alive and contribute to a cause that was close to my heart. Since then, I have lost my Grandpa to cancer as well as several other people that I’ve been close with. Year after year, I’ve met so many riders that have had similar experiences and it just reinforces why we all need to keep fundraising for cancer research and treatment. I will continue to ride until we can find a cure!
The ride is so much bigger than all of us! We are one huge family that comes together every year to bring hope to those still fighting cancer and remember those we have lost. One of my favorite moments of the ride is the Smilow Salute, when we get to stop in front of Smilow Cancer Hospital and hug the patients we are riding for. As the nurse manager of inpatient oncology, we talk to each of them in the weeks leading up to the ride as an inspiration to keep fighting and they look forward to being a part of this amazing day.
I ride for me, because I can. I ride for those who can't. I was diagnosed with Stage 3a Melanoma in January 2011. I subsequently had two surgeries and suffer from Lymphedema in my leg but I am now CANCER FREE. I am here today because of the amazing staff at Smilow Cancer Hospital that took such great care of me through all of my trials and tribulations associated with being a cancer patient. I ride to continue to help contributions go to the right place to help people like me through their journey.
Participating in the Closer to Free Ride is one of my favorite things to do every year!!! It gives me perspective on how precious life is and to not take any day for granted. Riding makes me feel like I’m doing something to help in the fight against cancer. In 2011 Smilow Cancer Hospital saved my wife, Amy Stinton, and I’ll be forever grateful to ALL of those who were responsible for that. Three weeks ago, the Smilow team did it again and saved my mother!!!