When 15-year-old, Elena Hogan-Perez starts pedaling in this year’s Closer To Free Ride, there will be one thing on her mind.
“I’ll definitely be thinking about my mother this whole ride, I’ve always thought about her,” she said.
On September 7th, Hogan-Perez will be riding for the third time, but the first without her mother rooting for her. Sadly, Andrea Hogan lost her lengthy battle with breast cancer in June.
“The last few weeks hit me really hard. I feel like I distanced myself from her just so it wouldn’t be as painful,” said Hogan-Perez.
Her memories though are of a woman who supported her in every way.
“She had such a big heart and she was strong..very strong,” she said.
That strength carries on through Elena. An avid rower and swimmer, Elena is an active athlete, but admits cycling is something she only does during this ride. A ride that’s taken on additional meaning.
“I will definitely be much more motivated by her,” she says. “I have been all the other years, but this year I want to do it for her even more.”
Elena remembers her mother’s lengthy fight, which included treatment at New Haven’s Smilow Cancer Hospital. With that, she knows, as she pedals to raise money to help Smilow’s fight against cancer, her mother would be proud.
“She’ll be watching,” said Elena. “She’ll be watching the entire time.”