LYNNFIELD, MA. It was only fitting that relief from the week-long record-setting heat wave would come just in time for the Ninth Annual Reid’s Ride this past Sunday morning. The day dawned dry, much cooler and brilliantly sunny for more than 400 cyclists joining the fun and challenge of this year’s event. The cyclists once again pedaled 28 miles from Lynnfield to Gloucester, this year helping to raise more than $170,000 to improve the care and prognosis of patients with adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancers. Riders and supporters celebrated their achievement with a reception on the captivating ocean-side grounds of Gloucester’s Stage Fort Park, beautifully decorated for the event, and replete with food, cold drinks, music, and prizes.
This was the ninth 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. Proceeds from the all-volunteer event benefit the ECCF/Reid Sacco AYA Cancer Fund and the scientific and clinical programs it supports.
Lorraine Sacco, Director of the event, observed that, “We’re very pleased with the turnout and results, and are of course very fortunate that the beautiful weather arrived just in time. Conditions were perfect for a summer morning bicycle ride, and as we approached the shoreline along the second half of the route, temperatures were in the high seventies and just perfect for an event like this. Someone seems to be watching over us. We’ve had good weather for all nine Reid’s Rides.”
Anticipating that the heat wave might not clear in time, the Ride had added additional ice and water stops along the route. These stops served not only to assure that riders are well hydrated, but to greet riders with cheers and homemade posters to motivate the cyclists along the challenging 28 mile route. One particularly memorable water stop was staffed by volunteers from the athletic apparel company Lululemon Athletica. Equipped with its own sound system, they provided exuberant encouragement for riders tackling the hill on Elliot Street toward Cabot Street in Beverly.
At the finish line reception at Stage Fort Park, hungry riders and supporters were greeted with a complementary feast of hamburgers, turkey burgers and veggie burgers from Fuddruckers, sausages from Bianco & Sons, salads from Countryside Deli and from Brothers, pizza from Papa Gino’s, Kayem hotdogs, and fruit and other items. Dunkin Donuts was again on-site with its mobile restaurant, and served hundreds of its famous cold drinks and iced coffees.
Participants visited a number of tents and booths set up on the grounds. Riders took the opportunity to receive a Reiki massage or an acupuncture treatment courtesy of Dreamtime Wellness, to cool down with an ice cream courtesy of MIX 104.1, or to purchase Reid’s Ride signature cycling jerseys and hats. New this year was a special tent staffed by representatives from two AYA cancer programs supported by Reid’s Ride, one at Connecticut Children Medical Center and St Francis Hospital, and the other at Reid Sacco AYA Clinic at Tufts Medical Center
Speaking from the gazebo on the Stage Fort Park grounds, Lorraine opened the proceedings by thanking the assembled riders, supporters, volunteers, and sponsors. She announced that their tireless fund-raising and assistance had helped this year’s event break new ridership and fund-raising records for Reid’s Ride. She would later award prizes to the top ten individual fund-raisers, and to the top ten fund-raising teams.
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, then introduced two of the clinic’s staff, both of them young adults. Mr. Tully Saunders, Program Director, and a cancer survivor, explained the importance of the work the clinic is doing to fill an unmet need for AYA cancer survivors and patients. Lynnfield native Nathan Bankoff , and a Peer Navigator for the clinic, explained that Peer Navigators are assigned to each patient, matched by age and background, and work with the patient and the patient’s doctor to help the patient navigate the complex issues of long-term follow-up care. The clinic opened in January 2013 as part of a first-of-its-kind program in New England to uniquely focus on the AYA age group.
Setting the spirit of Reid’s Ride to music was Ms. Venere Salzillo. She led the crowd gathered around the Stage Fort Park gazebo with a moving solo of the song “The Climb”. The event has adopted this song because its lyrics speak so relevantly to the uphill challenge those fighting cancer must overcome.
Lorraine took a moment to acknowledge the importance of volunteers in making the many moving parts of the event come together and run smoothly. She reminded the audience that the event is run entirely by volunteers. Its volunteers manage all aspects of the event, be it the registration process, safety monitoring, raffles, food preparation, return transportation for bikes and riders, and site logistics at Lynnfield High and Stage Fort Park.. Lorraine remarked, “Our armies of volunteers take charge of every element of every task, smoothing out every little bump along the way, which is so important for an event this large, this complex, and packed into a short four hours on summer Sunday morning. They are all amazing, and none of what you witnessed here today happens if it weren’t for them.”
To close the festivities, Dunkin Brands’ Bill Bode, Regional Vice President, Northeast and Tracy Treadwell, Operations Manager, presented Reid’s Ride with a check for $25,000 from the Dunkin Donuts Community Foundation, to be used to fund the programs at the Tufts AYA clinic. Dunkin Donuts is the premier event sponsor for Reid’s Ride.
Reid’s Ride would like to thank the Lynnfield Police Department, the Middleton Police Department, the Gloucester Police Department, the Danvers Fire Department, Lyons Ambulance, and North Shore Radio Association for their roles in making this year’s Ride safe and traffic-friendly. Once again, Endicott College allowed Reid’s Ride to use its parking lot along the route as the rest and refreshment stop for riders. The Lynnfield Rotary Club, the Peabody Rotary Club, and the Beverly Kiwanis Foundation have all lent a hand in a variety of capacities to make the Ride successful.
The organizers of Reid’s Ride would like to thank the following sponsors and donors for their generous support of this year’s event: Fuddrucker’s Restaurant, Pfizer, Inc., Pediatric Healthcare Associates, Landry’s Cycles, Universal Screening Studios, Michael’s Limosine, , Northeast Health Systems, Mix 104.1 Radio, B-Yond Music, Salem Five Bank, Azorean Restaurant, Mariposa, Rainbow Balloons, and Northeast Health Systems. The organizers would also like to thank Bianco and Sons Sausage, Countryside Deli, Lynnfield Meat and Deli, Crosby’s Market, Monadnock Spring Water, Stop & Shop, and Tube Ice, Inc.
Again this year, the event was professionally captured in digital images by Bob and Laurie Priestley of Lynnfield, and by AmyLou Astolfi of Gloucester.
Organizers would like to recognize the great people at Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) of Danvers, for their hard work and personal service in providing specialized expertise and professional guidance in administering and managing the ECCF/Reid Sacco AYA Cancer Fund.
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.