story & photos
by Maren Schober
Under sunny blue skies at the Mystic YMCA on Sunday May 25th, 213 men and women bike riders pedal across the finish line for the Fifth Annual Angel Ride. Most of the riders started in Norfolk the day before and pedaled the 80 miles to the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, founded by Paul Newman, in Ashford. They spent the night at the camp before continuing another 50 miles to Mystic, on Sunday.
I stand among hundreds of well-wishers as the riders cross the finish line, elated by that fact, and that they are doing this for a very good cause. Angel Ride is a fundraiser to benefit children suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses.
Behind us, YMCA tents are set up across the broad green lawn which stretches to the Mystic River. In the main tent a buffet table laden with food awaits the tired, hungry riders. Nearby the G&M DJ Music band members entertain with “Oldies to the Top 40.” Children wander from tent to tent where they enjoy free magic acts, face painting and craft projects. Allen Geer of Griswold strolls about with a mike in his hand announcing the names of the bike riders as they finish the course. He tells us that the Angel Ride has raised over $300,000 for the cause.
“I do this ride today in honor of my friend, Amy Rice, who had cancer,” declares Cathy Cardini of East Hartford.
“This is the first time I am doing this ride, and I have brought in $1,005.00 donated by my family and friends,” Cathy continues. “All the money raised this day goes to the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp Outreach Program. It will be used to bring the camp to children who are in the Childrens Medical Center of Hartford. These are children who are too sick to attend the camp themselves. Camp counselors come to the hospital and teach the children how to make camp crafts.”
During a burst of cheers, I see a father and son team finish on a tandem bicycle. Eric Kamisher and his son Alex of Rowayton have been training for about six weeks for this event. “When I heard about this fundraising ride for ill children, I thought right away of my friend’s little girl, Ellie,” said Eric. “I did it for her and the other seriously ill children.”
“I loved the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp where we stayed last night,” Alex tells me. “It is beautiful there. We had great food and entertainment and I slept on the top bunk.”
The Angel Ride fundraiser started when Angel Uihlein of Westbrook developed Leukemia about 7 years ago. Friends and neighbors started small local fundraisers to help pay for her medical expenses and it snowballed from there. Angel stands before me today at age 17, smiling and happy. She is a cancer survivor. I am blessed to witness the joy and happiness which comes form helping someone in need.