For Luke Williams, riding in this year’s Closer to Free event is a way to celebrate his wife’s health.
In 2016, Stephanie Williams decided to undergo genetic testing.
“She came to Smilow several years ago and did some screenings to find after one of our friends found out she had the similar BRCA2 gene,” Luke said.
The BRCA2 gene is a mutation that can increase the likelihood of developing breast and ovarian cancers.
After many tests, it was determined that Stephanie has the BRCA 2 gene and made the difficult decision to have a preventative double mastectomy, at age 51.
The procedure was a success, and Stephanie is excited to cheer her husband on come Saturday morning.
“I think she’s probably proud of me and it’s a good feeling,” Luke said.
Putting a team together and raising funds for Smilow Cancer Center and Yale New Haven Hospital is a new experience for the dedicated mountain biker.
“We’ve gotten about $10,000, and it’s just our first year,” said Williams. “We have 20 riders and some have been extremely successful in fundraising,.”
Many of those rides are Luke’s co-workers at Calcagni Real Estate which is how his team name, Calcagni Cruise Aiders, was born.
Williams has been training and preparing for his 100 mile bike ride since the beginning of the year.
“It’s good to have that on the calendar and really keeps you focused,” said Williams. “Instead of just kind of going straight home at the end of the day, maybe you jump on your bike and do 20 miles.”
The first-time Closer To Free rider is glad all the money raised will directly support research and patient care.
“It’s exciting to see all the research that’s happening here and the additional funds for more research for better understanding of cancer treatments, screenings and even lifestyle changes,” said Willaims. “It’s improving the way we deal with cancer and possibly reducing the incidents of it.”