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Smilow Cancer Hospital announces first annual Closer to Free Bike Ride community fundraiser

At the news conference announcing the Closer To Free Bike Ride are, from left: Abe Lopman, vice president and executive director, Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven; cancer survivor Mark Reitsma of South Windsor; Thomas Lynch, MD, physician-in-chief, Smilow Cancer Hospital and director, Yale Cancer Center; and Kevin Walsh, vice president, development, Yale New Haven Hospital.

3/24/2011 — The first annual Closer to Free bike ride fundraiser — which takes place on Saturday Sept. 10, 2011 — was announced on March 23 at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven. The route map that will pass through 12 towns throughout Greater New Haven and the shoreline was unveiled and registration is now open for the ride.

The ride will start at 7 a.m. at the Yale Bowl complex, where it will also finish. The route map details a 25-mile or a 100-mile ride option, passing through 12 towns throughout Greater New Haven, including New Haven, East Haven, North Branford, Guilford, Madison, Killingworth, Deep River, Essex, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton and Branford.

We are very excited about this event," said Marna P. Borgstrom, president and CEO, Yale New Haven Hospital. "The ride will not only help raise awareness and money for cancer care at the hospital, but it is also a great way to bring the community together and channel its energy and spirit toward a very important cause."

Mark Reitsma, a Connecticut resident who is a cancer survivor and Smilow Cancer Hospital patient, spoke at the press conference. He will be riding the 100-mile portion of the ride in September.

"Biking has always been a part of my life, and when I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought it was the end," said Mark. "I realized it's not the end and cancer can be beaten through determination, endless support and a healthy lifestyle. I can't think of any better way to bring people together to take on such an important challenge. I look forward to riding in September and doing my part to beat cancer."

"The Closer to Free Bike Ride is a real community effort," said Thomas J. Lynch, Jr., MD, physician-in-chief, Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven and director of Yale Cancer Center. "With strong community support, corporate sponsors and hundreds of riders and volunteers, the success of this event will support our efforts in ground-breaking science and patient-centered care at Smilow and Yale Cancer Center."

Cancer survivors, patients, family, friends, trained athletes and riders or all skill levels and abilities over the age of 18 are encouraged to ride. Each cyclist must raise a minimum of $1,000 to ride. Event organizers are also looking for corporate sponsors and volunteers. Among the early corporate sponsors are Panera Bread, a $25,000 "Bike Sponsor" and Unitex, a "Pedal Sponsor."

Anyone interested in riding or volunteering, visit or contact Jessica Scheps, office of development at 203.688.8727 or [email protected].

Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH), part of Yale New Haven Health, is a nationally recognized, 1,541-bed, not-for-profit hospital serving as the primary teaching hospital for the Yale School of Medicine (YSM). Founded as the fourth voluntary hospital in the U.S. in 1826, today, YNHH has two New Haven-based campuses, and also includes Yale New Haven Children's Hospital, Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and Smilow Cancer Hospital. YNHH has received Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the nation’s highest honor of nursing excellence. YNHH has a combined medical staff of about 4,500 university and community physicians practicing in more than 100 specialties.