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Closer to Free ride is close to employees’ hearts

Marianna Triolo, RN, Surgical Oncology (NP 15), won the 2019 Mark Reitsma Courage Award. Named for a longtime Closer to Free supporter and United Technologies Corp. employee who died of cancer in 2014, the award recognizes a rider who is battling or has battled cancer.

Every year, hundreds of Yale New Haven employees and physicians join the Closer to Free ride, as care providers, cancer survivors – and sometimes both. This year’s Sept. 7 ride was no exception. During the “Smilow salute” in front of the cancer hospital, Smilow nurses hopped off their bikes to embrace patients who were cheering on the riders. Employee cancer survivors rode side-by-side with their colleagues. Employees who didn’t ride showed their support in other ways – as volunteers, donors and cheerleaders along ride routes. Participation once again broke a record this year, with 2,150 riders fanning out from Yale Bowl that morning to complete routes of 10, 25, 40, 65 or 100 miles. Funds are still being tallied, but organizers hope this year’s ride will break the previous $3 million record, with 100 percent of funds going to support cancer research, prevention and survivor programs at Smilow and Yale Cancer Center. Thank you to everyone who participated in and supported this year’s Closer to Free event.