By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The 17th annual Reid’s Ride raised $75,000 last month for the betterment of adolescent and young adult cancer patients.
While Reid’s Ride is traditionally a 28-mile bike-a-thon from Lynnfield High School to Stage Fort Park in Gloucester, the Reid R. Sacco AYA Cancer Alliance was forced to hold a virtual fundraiser for the second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to raising funds for AYA cancer treatments and support programs, the ride honors the life and legacy of Lynnfield High School graduate Reid Sacco. Reid passed away in April 2005 after a courageous two-year battle with soft tissue sarcoma.
“The restrictions forced organizers to plan the 2021 Reid’s Ride as a virtual event for the second straight year,” said Alliance Executive Director Lorraine Sacco. “But as guidance regarding social distancing and masks gradually began to loosen up in early spring, organizers were able to enhance the format of the 2021 Reid’s Ride in an attempt close the gap between an entirely virtual event and one that more closely resembled the traditional Reid’s Ride large gathering format. For the 2021 Reid’s Ride, event participants were asked to complete any exercise activity, for any distance, at any location, but to do so on the day of the ride, which was Sunday, July 18. They were also encouraged to hold their activity outdoors as singles, pairs or other small groups such as teams.”
Sacco said the “We Can’t Stop” team led by captain Meredith Nash raised the most money out of all of the teams that participated in the virtual Reid’s Ride fundraiser. Sacco’s team, “Sylvan Sacco’s,” finished second overall in team fundraising. Lynnfield resident Stephen Connolly’s “Always Sonny” team, captain Kerry O’Neill’s “Miles for Matt” team and captain Patrice Fogg’s “Oyster River, N.H.” team rounded out the top five fundraising teams.
The top five individual fundraisers were Grace Marie Greeno, Lorraine Sacco, Nash, Weston Sacco and Connolly.
“The alliance raised more than $50,000 in individual and team fundraising,” said Sacco. “Company sponsors donated another $25,000 to that total.”
Reid’s Ride has raised $3.5 million over the past 17 years.
Sacco said the alliance “received dozens of selfie photos and videos” of Reid’s Ride participants undertaking their various activities while raising money for AYA cancer patients. She also noted that the alliance launched a “unique” fundraising campaign for this year’s Reid’s Ride.
“Two dozen colorful pinwheels, accompanied by a ‘You’ve been Pin-wheeled for a Cure’ sign, were planted at various homes and businesses in Lynnfield and surrounding towns, including at MarketStreet Lynnfield’s traffic circle,” said Sacco. “The alliance volunteers would, in exchange for a donation to Reid’s Ride, remove the display and move it to another home or business.”
Sacco said the theme for the 2021 Reid’s Ride was “Rise Up and Ride.”
“It was intended to reflect a renewed hope and optimism in the wake of the hardships and heartbreaks brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sacco. “But it also spoke to the impact that AYA cancer has on so many lives. That impact can be tragic and there’s much work left to do to change that. But progress is being made. Based on the individuals and teams in this year’s Reid’s Ride and those who supported those participants with donations, one can see evidence of that heartbreak and progress.”
Sacco recalled that Reid’s Ride supporter, Jim Fitzgerald, lost his wife, Michelle, to a brain tumor in last month.
“Michelle and Jim have been avid supporters of Reid’s Ride since its inception,” said Sacco. “It was Jim who helped the ride gain the outstanding support of area Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees. The Dunkin’ Donuts mobile restaurant, which is parked each year at Stage Fort Park and hands out cold drinks to Reid’s Ride riders and supporters, was also something that would not have been possible without Jim’s commitment to Reid’s Ride and fighting AYA cancer.”
Sacco said the “Sunflower Meredith” team honored the late Meredith Toto, who passed away from cancer in November 2020.
“Meredith was an outspoken activist for cancer patients,” said Sacco. “Meredith was diagnosed in 2016 with an undifferentiated cardiac sarcoma. She battled several tumors in her leg, head and spine. She was the hardest fighter and advocate for herself. Meredith was known for her fight, love for her son, family, friends and her red lipstick.”
Sacco noted that a number of individuals and teams honored late family members and friends who passed away from cancer during the 17th annual Reid’s Ride.
“The commitment of these teams and riders, and that of those who support their fundraising efforts, embody the dedication of Reid’s Ride to its mission and to the AYAs who inspired it,” said Sacco. “The loved ones who were honored once again this year by a Reid’s Ride team or individual were Lauren Averill, Brian Ayles, Miles Goldberg, Matt Shea and Sonny Tropeano.”
Sacco said the proceeds raised from Reid’s Ride have enabled the alliance to hold a variety programs in order to support cancer patients.
“The alliance planned, organized and hosted the Northeast AYA Cancer Conference in April 2021,” said Sacco. “It brought together not only the pioneers among AYA cancer clinicians and researchers, but also AYA cancer survivors. The work of several of the speakers and panelists are supported by Reid’s Ride fundraising. The day of presentations and panel discussions left speakers, panelists and attendees with a feeling of cautious optimism. Presented data and experiences showed that the clinical and social gaps long facing AYA cancer patients and survivors have begun to close.”
Sacco thanked the Boston North Cancer Association, the Boston Bruins Foundation, Cataldo Ambulance, area Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees, Everett Bank, Ira Toyota, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, MarketStreet Lynnfield, Sachetta & Callahan, and SBLI for sponsoring the 17th annual Reid’s Ride.
“In another year in which fundraising was hurt by the pandemic, Reid’s Ride organizers are more grateful than ever for the vital role that company sponsors play in helping Reid’s Ride continue its mission to fund innovative programs specializing the improving the care, treatment and outlook for AYA cancer patients and cancer survivors,” said Sacco.