It has been less than three months since Sierra Hajek’s mother Lara detected a lump that doctors determined was breast cancer.
“I thought when she was diagnosed I want to do something that I could about it and I decided I can do the Closer to Free Ride,” Sierra told NBC Connecticut.
The Closer to Free ride raises funds for the Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center. Lara was planning to ride for the first time, but chemotherapy treatment will prevent her from doing so.
“I rarely ride my bike,” said 13-year-old Sierra.
But she is planning to pedal for 25 miles on ride day in September because her mom learned of her diagnosis on April 25.
“She’s been really strong,” Sierra, who is from Killingworth, said. “She’s always had a positive attitude and she’s not letting it get to her, she’s continuing her everyday life.”
Lara has also been finding the strength to help her daughter train.
“Couple times a week I will go around either me and my mom or me and my dad,” Sierra said, “and we will go just for a long bike ride to see how far we can get and we keep adding more miles every time.”
Even as a first time rider, Sierra is serving as the captain of Lara’s Army. She’s wearing a pink bracelet with the team name on her.
“We gave these out to a lot of our friends and family to show that she has people who stand behind her and her 'army' and people love her,” Sierra said.
While she tried on a Closer to Free jersey for her interview with NBC Connecticut, on ride day Sierra plans to proudly wear a special jersey designed by her uncle.
“It’s all pink with breast cancer signs and on the back it has a big ribbon that says Lara’s Army and on the side it say’s Lara’s Army,” she said.
There is still plenty of time to sign up and get involved before the Closer to Free ride day on Saturday, Sept. 9. All of the funds raised support patient care and critical research at the Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center.
NBC Connecticut is a proud media sponsor for Closer to Free. We will continue sharing personal stories of member in the Closer to Free community between now and ride day.