“The feeling I get is this is a mission that I can’t afford to fail on,” said Norm Forrester, who’s getting ready for his eighth Closer to Free Ride. It will be the fourth time taking on 100 miles.
“If we can raise enough money, hopefully we can eradicate this traumatic disease in our lifetime that would be a tremendous accomplishment and I’d love to be a part of that,” said Forrester.
He and teammate Lisa Cerbone-Montalto, like many people, are driven by the weight of losing someone to cancer.
“She felt so supported and she felt so helped by the doctors and by the people at Smilow [Cancer Center], and when the opportunity came to ride in Closer to Free, I said I’m all in,” said Cerbone-Montalto
She too has been all in since 2013. Now that the 10th annual ride on Saturday will be virtual, they’re glad that their employer, Bank of America, saw the need to sponsor the ride this year.
“Particularly during this period of pandemic, they didn’t have to do it,” said Forrester.
But they did. And this year team Bank of America’s 50 employees have raised $30,000 for local cancer research and treatment, and the patients at Smilow Cancer Hospital.
“When you ride by in the morning and see all those people that are dealing with it and battling cancer, and they’re outside cheering you on. You just get a renewed sense of energy that is almost indescribable,” said Forrester.
This year they’ll miss the ride favorites: the Smilow salute, the finish line celebration and cheers from young supporters along the route.
“That’s the next generation of people who may be the ones who discover the cure,” said Cerbone-Montalto.
But that is why they say this ride is still important: to send a message of hope.
“For those folks battling cancer, know you’re not alone. We’re riding for you, we’re riding with you,” said Forrester.
NBC Connecticut is a proud partner of the Closer to Free ride.