On ride day for Closer to Free, the Melvin family from Guilford makes it a party of five, on wheels.
“It’s about resilience, it’s about defiance it’s about courage,” said Charlie Melvin. “It’s really everything that we want our family to be a part of.”
Tara and Charlie, along with their identical twins Liam and Sean, and their daughter Rory, all say the ride brings them together and helps them give back to Smilow Cancer Hospital.
“All the funding that goes to the Closer to Free Ride goes directly to the research and care that Smilow gives to very vulnerable, sick, sick people,” said Charlie.
He first joined Closer to Free in 2014 with a 65-mile ride. Then Sean joined in.
“My initial motivation was like, ‘you know what? I’m just going to do this, and I’ll see how it is,’” said Sean.
Not to be outdone, the rest of the family soon followed.
“I found out there was a 10-miler and I thought I could ride that, and I did,” said Rory. “It was really fun and there was a big reward at the end, like a big party.”
That’s one of the things Rory says she’ll miss, although their dedication remains strong.
They don’t have a direct connection to Smilow Cancer Hospital, but many people are affected by cancer and the Melvin family is no exception. Tara lost her dad to leukemia in 1999.
“He got great care, and the community at the hospital was so important to help us as a family,” said Tara. “And while it wasn’t Smilow, we were here and wanted to give back to a place that’s important to so many people.”
So, every year they hustle as a team in fundraising and inspiration. They raised $400 at a lemonade stand, and Rory was given the names of her classmates’ family members who were lost to cancer. Liam has recruited friends.
“Now more than a couple of my friends are doing it and they think it’s great and we think it’s great,” said Liam.
And the family grew. The Melvins joined the Carl’s Crusaders team for the Closer to Free Ride. This year they’re working on a virtual ride day plan for September 12, keeping in mind what it’s all about.
“There’s a moment when you feel like ‘why am I doing this?’” said Sean. “Then you see all the supporters that you have all along the entire way, and you realize ‘I’m doing this for a really good cause.”
NBC Connecticut is a proud partner of the Closer to Free ride.