“I work at Smilow and literally this is my ride,” said Swani Schoberth-Wyckoff, proudly pointing to her Closer to Free Ride jersey.
Schoberth-Wyckoff is an operating room nurse at Smilow Cancer Hospital. If you were to ask anyone at there about why the ride is important, she has a quick and sobering answer.
“We are working at the Smilow OR. We see it every single day from the beginning to the end of our shift,” said Schoberth-Wyckoff. That’s one of the reasons why she’s riding in this year’s virtual ride September 12.
“I love to ride my bike, I love to do something good, I love my job so this is all one big happy bubble, and apparently the energy went over to my coworkers.”
Maybe energy, maybe passion, either way, she’s recruited at least five other Smilow Cancer Hospital staff to join the team this year, including fellow operating room nurse Charito Par.
“Because if this I was able to bring my two friends with me, they were able to sign up also,” said Par. The ride is close to home for her, who not only works at Smilow, but also has a father in cancer remission.
“I can’t describe the feeling,” said Par. “It’s… fulfilling.”
The team that’s giving back keeps getting bigger, right at the heart of the Closer to Free Ride. Here at the Smilow Cancer Hospital these nurses help navigate a more challenging journey.
“We’re holding their hand while they’re in the operating room, reassuring them that we’re going to take great care of them,” said nurse Anita Graham.
It’s her first ride, and she says she’s excited to join because getting the money for treatments, clinical trials and survivors support is an ongoing mission.
“We need money to help with all of this so we can finally get a cure,” said Graham.
The Smilow operating nurses team is still recruiting. They’re on training rides and are aiming to do a twenty-mile ride, maybe more.
This year will be different, but Schoberth-Wyckoff says during the ride, she thinks a lot about her patients her own family that battled cancer, and how they’re moved by their chance to make a difference.
“It was a lot about work and how proud we are not just as nurses but as medical professionals to work for this hospital.”
NBC Connecticut is a proud partner of the Closer to Free ride.