Published in the July 29, 2015 edition
LYNNFIELD — More than 400 cyclists gathered at Lynnfield High School early Sunday morning, July 19 for the 2015 Reid’s Ride. They were about
to embark on a 28-mile bike ride to raise funds to fight adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer and more determined than ever to beat it.
Although the day turned out to be one of the month’s warmest, conditions were perfect for a Sunday morning bike ride up to the Cape Ann shoreline, where cooling offshore breezes kept riders comfortable on their trek to the finish-line festivities at Gloucester’s Stage Fort Park, cheerfully decorated for the event with banners, bows and sunflowers.
Cyclists crossed the finish line to the cheers of friends, family, volunteers and Gloucester’s new mayor, Safatia Roman Theken, a long-time Reid’s Ride supporter.
And there was plenty to cheer about. By the end the morning, the event had raised more than $190,000 for the fight against adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer.
Reid’s Ride, now in its 11th year, is committed to raising awareness and funds to close critical gaps facing AYA cancer patients and their families. That commitment is focused on three areas: Improving care for AYA cancer patients and survivors; improving access for AYA cancer patients to new clinical trials; and educating medical professionals and caregivers about the unique challenges of the cancers predominantly striking adolescents and young adults.
Reid’s Ride is the primary fund-raiser for the ECCF/Reid Sacco AYA Cancer Fund, which provides financial support to clinical and scientific programs targeted at finding improved treatments – and someday a cure – for the cancers that strike adolescents and young adults. Compared to cancer patients in other age groups, this age group is grossly underserved in terms of cancer treatment options, access to clinical trials, and improved survival rates.
Celebration, gratitude and transition
Festivities at the ocean-side Stage Fort Park included a barbecue brunch, refreshments, music, raffles, prizes and expressions of gratitude from patients and caregivers for the impact that Reid’s Ride has had in altering the course of AYA cancer care over the last 11 years.
Susan Parsons, M.D., program director of the Reid R. Sacco AYA Cancer Program and Clinic at Tufts Medical Center, updated supporters on how quickly that program has grown and expanded, indicating just how critical and respected it has already become. She then introduced this year’s AYA Summer Scholars, Darcy Banco and Kate Spencer, who described the research they are conducting for the AYA program.
Education and Outreach Coordinator Rachel Murphy-Banks followed and shared her personal survivorship experience and enthusiasm for connecting with the AYA community through educational presentations and social media. She reminded everyone about the Reid Sacco AYA Cancer Program Lecture scheduled for Sept. 17 with New York Times journalist and AYA cancer survivor Suleika Jaouad.
Program Coordinator Tully Saunders then spoke about the exciting growth within the AYA clinic and the addition of a new oncologist this coming fall. Program oncologist Erin Barthel, M.D., highlighted the range of survivorship care offered to AYA patients who were diagnosed in childhood as well as in young adulthood. She also shared that survivorship care generally begins five years after active treatment, but that this model should be modified to incorporate a discussion of survivorship care much earlier on.
Nadine Linendoll, Ph.D., an oncology nurse practitioner for the program, then introduced AYA Clinic patient Rob Bonia who donated the photograph, “Boats at Anchor in Camden Harbor,” which was raffled off to a lucky rider. Ming Lin, a peer navigator at the AYA Clinic, presented the photograph to raffle winner Jack Shea from North Reading.
Lorraine Sacco, director of Reid’s Ride and co-founder of the Reid R. Sacco AYA Cancer Alliance, thanked all riders, teams and supporters for all their hard work in fund-raising. She also thanked all Reid’s Ride volunteers and subcommittees for skillfully managing the many complex moving parts of an event like Reid’s Ride.
Sacco stressed that every logistical or organizational element of Reid’s Ride is designed to assure that the event runs smoothly and safely and that all participants have a great time, but that it takes the hard work and creativity of the Ride’s army of volunteers to make it all happen as intended. She also thanked all of the Reid’s Ride sponsors who had donated essential funds, goods and services to make the event so successful.
When asked if there was anything about this year’s Reid’s Ride that seemed to set it apart from previous ones, Sacco remarked, “This was most definitely a transition year, and on so many fronts. Not only have we transitioned to a second decade of holding this event, but we’ve transitioned from a something that was a dream to something that is a reality.
“Eleven years ago, we knew we needed to change how things were done for AYA cancer patients, but at that time we could only dream of achieving that. Over the several years that followed, I was happy to share that dream and to see it spread among thousands of supporters. But today, I’m happy to see that this dream is becoming a reality,” Sacco said.
She continued, “Another transition is in something that is best described as ‘ownership.’ By that I mean I feel like this event is no longer driven just by me and my family. It is now driven by that much larger community of supporters committed to altering the course of AYA cancers. You can see that ownership among our riders, who worked harder than ever to expand the impact of Reid’s Ride by growing their teams and setting the bar higher on their fundraising goals. Others formed new teams and recruited new riders. And many of these held special, dedicated events in advance of Reid’s Ride. For example, the ‘We Can’t Stop’ team held the 7th Annual Reid’s Ride Comedy Night at Prince Restaurant, and the ‘Danvers Diehards’ team held its 2nd Annual 5K Run.”
“This past spring, two Reid’s Runs 5K events were held, one in Connecticut and one in Lynnfield. In another fund-raiser, High School Alliance members from Lexington, Saugus, Stoneham and Lynnfield held a ‘Strike Out Cancer’ event at King’s at Lynnfield MarketStreet. Additionally, special thanks go out to Krista Grava, owner of Sweat Indoor Cycling Studio, who celebrated her birthday by having a spin class and donating all proceeds to Reid’s Ride,” Sacco said.
“I also see that ownership among our sponsors,” she continued. “More than ever, they are coming to me in advance of the event, wanting to do more for the event and for the cause. Many of them are already planning their participation for next year.”
“I am convinced that, with all this dedication and support heading into the second decade of Reid’s Ride, we’ll soon be putting a stranglehold on AYA cancer, and that the only growth we’ll be seeing in this area will be in survivorship!”
Special recognition for Kristi
Before awarding prizes to the top fund-raising teams and individuals, Sacco took a moment to recognize another young adult who lost her battle to AYA cancer last year.
“I was at a meeting last December,” Sacco recalled, “speaking to the many Reid’s Ride supporters among area Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees. One of those franchisees shared with me the story of her niece, Kristi Allison Lincoln. Kristi was home just a few months after graduating college in 2014 when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). She went into the hospital for treatment and never returned. She was just 22 years old, and the world lost just a remarkably positive and selfless individual.
“Kristi left behind a younger sister, Katie, who has Muscular Dystrophy. From what I learned, Kristi and Katie were one another’s heroes. It hurt so much to hear this story because it reminded me of how AYA cancer affected my own family, and cruelly stealing Reid from us and from his brother Weston. It also should remind us all of why we continue to ride, year after year. We won’t stop until this disease is beaten!”
Red carpet treatment
A new feature was added to this year’s Reid’s Ride to help recognize the event’s riders, supporters and volunteers. By providing the red-carpet treatment they deserved for all their hard work and dedication, as well as setting the mood for celebrity status, Lynnfield professional photographers Bob and Lauri Priestley provided that taste of celebrity life by setting up a Reid’s Ride “step-and-repeat banner” and instant photo booth, like the ones seen at Hollywood premieres and other high profile events. All morning long riders, supporters, sponsors and volunteers posed for photographs to record their celebrity moment at the 2015 Reid’s Ride.
Another new feature added this year was a “Fun Run” for children ages 10 and under who came up to Stage Fort Park to help celebrate the day. Organized and led by the Lynnfield’s Mom’s Group (LMG), the Fun Run helped make Reid’s Ride an event the whole family can enjoy.
Sacco then concluded her remarks by recognizing the top fund-raising teams and individuals. This year’s top fund-raising individuals were: Dave Champagne (Danvers) with “Team Lyons;” Mike Marra (Brighton) with the team “We Can’t Stop;” Patrice Fogg (Madbury N.H.) with the team “Spoke and Mirrors;” Meredith Nash (Andover), with “We Can’t Stop;” Grace Marie Greeno (Concord) with “We Can’t Stop;” Richard Simmons (Lynnfield) with “Lynnfield Rotary/ReMax;” Liz Joyce (Danvers) with “Danvers Diehards;” Derek Joyce (Danvers) with “Danvers Diehards;” Jane Greeno (Los Angeles, Calif.) with “We Can’t Stop;” and Weston Sacco (Newton) with “Doctors Sacco.”
For more words and pictures about the 2015 11th Annual Reid’s Ride, go to www.facebook.com/reidsride or www.flickr.com/photos/reidsaccofoundation/collections.