closer to free

North Haven Cancer Survivor Readies for Ninth Closer to Free Ride

NBC Universal, Inc.

Nearly a decade after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Bonnie Cohen is still giving back to Smilow Cancer Hospital.

She’s a nine-year breast cancer survivor and a nine-year participant in the Closer to Free Ride.

“You feel one thing as a volunteer, but you feel that much more when you ride,” said Cohen. “It just touches your heart.”

She was diagnosed in 2011 and was treated at Smilow Cancer Hospital. She’s had a heart full of gratitude ever since.

“I loved my surgeon, loved my oncologist. It’s a great place, and they take care of their people. They really do,” Cohen said.

She started off as a volunteer where she helped out for three years before she decided to ride.

Along with her team “Heath’s Wellness Warriors,” she did 25 miles for three years, and 40 miles for the last two. She was thinking of her own course along the way.

“Knowing more and more people that have been diagnosed with cancer who have lost their journeys, who are fighting for their lives. It’s my way of putting a little piece to help other people,” Cohen said.

And that’s what keeps her coming back. This year, she hopes people will join the virtual ride on September 12. It can happen anywhere, and there’s no fundraising minimum.

“I just think people should sign up and take advantage this year, but still fundraise,” said Cohen. “Do the best that you can, raise what you can because every dollar counts.”

Her team is working on ways to make new memories this year while holding on to old ones.

“Seeing every single person walking on to that field from the parking lot with their bikes and their families and friends,” said Cohen. “It’s just an overwhelming exciting feeling. You know you’re a part of something that’s big.”

She’s glad closer to free was able to keep that sense of unity in its tenth year. She says she’ll be here this year, and every year after, as long as she can.

“Knowing I’m continuing to help as much as I can until someday, they can say we don’t need your help anymore,” Cohen said.

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