Three years ago, Kathy Overbye joined her husband for the annual Jim Calhoun Ride and Walk for Lifesaving Research and Care. She says the exercise has made a difference in her life, but she rides to make a difference for others.
“Unfortunately, I lost my father about 20 years ago to lung cancer. I just saw the care that was provided to him and what everybody did to improve his health and help him during the difficult time, and I really want to give back,” said the Simsbury woman.
She and others have given a total of two million dollars to research at the University of Connecticut, since the event started in 2007. On Saturday, they hoped to raise another quarter-of-a-million dollars. The money is needed because of a shortfall in federal research dollars.
“Federal funding they tend to want to see a piece of work that’s halfway done already, because they want to invest so they can get a return. Money like this enables us to take a more adventurous route into research,” explained Dr. Bruce Liang, the interim Director of the University of Connecticut Health Center.
That means expanding where the money goes beyond the cancer research from the past eight years to heart disease, infection, and autism.
“Every time you push that pedal, you’re pushing it to help others,” former UConn Men’s Basketball Coach Jim Calhoun told the riders before each of the 62-mile, 30-mile, and 15-mile bike rides.
A three-time cancer survivor it’s a cause close to the coach’s heart, but Calhoun says the support he received after losing his father at 15, fuels his philanthropy.
“I had a responsibility to help others, because I had been helped myself. My personal experience showed me that so many people get into our lives that can tremendously help you,” he explained.
Calhoun has participated in the ride in the past, and promised he’ll get back on his bike for the 62-mile ride next year.
In the meantime, a thousand people helped ride and walk their way to a better community, on Saturday.
“It’s a win-win. I’m getting healthier and I’m helping other people,” added Overbye.