If you ask Lisa Selmquist if she’s a cyclist, the answer is an emphatic “no.”
“Not at all. And I will never admit that I am one. I’m a want-to-be cyclist,” Selmquist said.
But, the aspiring rider from Hamden is making a real-life impact. She is "Team Pedaling for Pop Pop," a one-woman powerhouse raising money in this year’s Closer to Free Ride.
“It’s a team that I started with just myself as the rider for my father, Joseph Esposito,” Selmquist said. “He was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in November and had surgery this past February, and is now cancer-free.”
Her brother Jody is also a cancer survivor, as well as her childhood friend Lynette. When they were young, Lynette needed a biopsy at Smilow Cancer Hospital. Selmquist went with her and got to see the care the team had for young patients.
Years later, the same care was there for her dad. She says she knows how important the Closer to Free Ride is for those still in the fight against cancer.
“For me to be a part of this I’m a part of something big. I’m a part of something that’s making a difference in the patient’s lives in the families lives,” Selmquist said.
Including those she’s lost along the way.
“I have a friend that just passed away last week we buried him yesterday of cancer, and I have another friend that’s in hospice right now.”
So, each week she hops on the bike by herself and just takes off as she trains for a 65-mile ride. But the training distance is unknown.
“I just know my route and I know I’m going from start to finish and that’s it, and there’s no stopping.”
The return of the live ride on September 11 means this solo rider can get back to the big event, surrounded by people who are supporting the same cause.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the familiar faces, all the friends that we’ve made the couple years I’ve been riding. Seeing the staff again, seeing everyone out on the roads cheering us on, because that really does help, and it really does make a difference for us.”
Especially when it’s her family on the sidelines. She says they love her dedication to the ride.
“They’re out there cheering me on at the stations, making sure that I’m staying hydrated, that I have some protein in the system so that way I can keep going, and push hard,” Selmquist said.
She’s glad to see the money she raises goes back to Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, the place that’s treated those who are close to her.
“They’re trying to make the patients and the families at ease as best as they can, and make them feel comfortable.”
All while treating patients and conducting research for those in the fight against cancer.
“All of the money raised is taking us one step closer. We’re getting there. We’re getting to find that cure.”
NBC Connecticut is a proud partner of the Closer to Free ride.