In what can only be called a “ride to remember”, more than 360 cyclists pedaled 28 miles from Lynnfield to Gloucester in an event that raised more than $149,000 to fight the cancers striking adolescents and young adults. At the finish line, riders and supporters celebrated some long-awaited achievements in that fight.
This was the eighth consecutive year for the Reid’s Ride Bike-a-thon, held annually on the third Sunday in July. The event is named after Reid Sacco, a Lynnfield native who lost his two-year battle with cancer at age 20.
On-hand for the finish-line festivities at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester was Susan Parsons, M.D., Director of the newly established Reid R. Sacco Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) Clinic for Cancer and Blood Diseases at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. Addressing the hundreds in attendance, Dr. Parsons announced that the clinic will open in September 2012 as part of a first-of-its-kind program in Boston to uniquely focus on the AYA age group. She went on to describe details of the program and its role in patient follow-up and treatment, in basic research, and in the education of patients, families and medical professionals. Dr. Parsons explained how the program will help fill an urgent unmet medical need for this patient population.
The clinic and program are major milestones for Reid’s Ride and its mission to improve the outlook of cancer patients age 15-39.
Setting the spirit of Reid’s Ride to music was Ms. Venere Salzillo, of Saugus, who had recently returned from Los Angeles where she placed first in a national teen vocals competition. Her moving rendition of “The Climb” stirred cheers, applause and tears from the Reid’s Ride audience. With lyrics that speak to the importance of facing each uphill challenge with strength and perseverance, the song not only symbolized each rider’s effort that day but it also resonated with those who have personally experienced the impact of cancer on their lives. At the conclusion of Ms. Salzillo’s performance, a large balloon in the shape of a butterfly was released in a symbolic gesture of honor or remembrance for those who have won or lost their battle with cancer.
Lorraine Sacco, Director of Reid’s Ride, congratulated and thanked the assembled riders, supporters, volunteers, and sponsors for their tireless fund-raising and assistance in making this year’s event another record-breaker. She emphatically reminded them that it was their hard work and commitment that made the new clinic and program at Tufts a possibility and now a reality. “Reid would be very proud of how far we have come in so little time,” Sacco concluded.
Frank Basler, Operations Director for Dunkin Brands, presented Lorraine a check for $25,000 from the Dunkin Donuts Community Foundation. Dunkin Donuts is the premier event sponsor for Reid’s Ride. Accompanying Mr. Basler was the Braga family of Gloucester. The Braga family is a franchise-holder and a tremendous supporter of Reid’s Ride.
Heading up the list of top fund-raising individuals was Patrice Fogg (Madbury, NH). Other top fund-raisers included Meredith Greeno (Brookline, MA), Michael Marra (Brighton, MA), Jane Greeno (Los Angeles, CA), Weston Sacco (Lynnfield, MA), Rachael Sacco (Haverhill, MA), Frank Sacco (Haverhill, MA), Linda Ladd (Lynnfield. MA), Liz Joyce (Danvers.MA), Kate Jackson (Danvers, MA), and Eric Primack (Ipswich. MA)
The top ten fund-raising teams were Skid Marks (Revere and Madbury, NH), Danvers Diehards (Danvers), Babo Kicks Butts (Babson College Alum), Team Fun (Concord), Team Lyons (Danvers), Team Turner (Haverhill), Pedal Mettle (Lynnfield), Team Bankoff (Lynnfield), and Team Newbury North (Lynnfield).
“We had about 360 registered riders this year, and more than 50 teams,” Sacco reported. “We’re very pleased with that, and very fortunate have had beautiful weather. We had prepared for the forecasted heat and humidity by adding extra water stations and supplies. But temperatures turned out quite reasonable for this time of year, with some cooling breezes off the ocean. It was a delightful ride.”
Over the years, Reid’s Ride has become a popular “warm-up” event for those cyclists competing in the Pan Mass Challenge in early August. Next year, Reid’s Ride organizers plan to add a separate start, with timing services, for those interested in obtaining an official time for the 28 mile ride through Lynnfield, Middleton, Danvers, Beverly, Manchester and Gloucester.
Sacco remarked that there is really only one formidable challenge to Reid’s Ride. “So many wonderful people turn out for Reid’s Ride that you just want to jump off your bike to catch up with old friends or to learn what motivated a new rider to come out this year. If I did that every time I wanted to, though, I’d still be out on the course!”
“We’re already planning for next year’s event,” Sacco concluded, “and will spend the next month listening to riders and volunteers for ideas on how we can improve. Our adolescents and young adults are counting on this event becoming even bigger and better, so that we accelerate the progress we need to make in the fight against AYA cancers."