Thousands of Bicyclists, Volunteers Participate in 9th Annual Closer to Free Ride in New Haven

Thousands of riders, volunteers and supporters had an early start for a good cause as they hit the pavement for the 2019 Closer to Free Ride.

It’s all in an effort to help raise money for cancer research at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale’s Cancer Center.

As the riders took off, there was lots of cheering.

More than 2,150 riders and volunteers joined forces for the special day. The day started early for riders, supporters and loved ones.

Jennifer Brennan is a survivor. Brennan was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2010.

“I was very fortunate, we found it early, treated it and the follow-up care at Smilow Hospital has been amazing,” said Brennan.

“It’s just been spectacular and the ride is absolutely amazing," she added. 

The Naugatuck teacher said the ride is memorable for everyone looking to help fight cancer.

“It’s hope and happiness and you meet so many people and you talk with them and you hear their stories of love and lost and hope and you just carry each other,” said Brennan.

NBC Connecticut is proud to be connecting you with the Closer to Free Ride presented by Bank of America on Saturday, September 7.

"Connecticut’s Best Ride" benefits Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center. Riders choose to take on 10, 25, 40, 65 or 100 miles on professionally designed and supported routes traveling through wooded hills and seaside vistas.

After leaving the iconic Yale Bowl after an inspiring and emotional Opening Ceremony, riders paused in front of Smilow Cancer Hospital for the Smilow Salute, where patients, doctors and nurses line the sidewalks and greet the riders to thank them.

One hundred percent of participant fundraising goes to cancer research and care, including clinical trials, survivorship programs, cancer genetics and prevention programs.

Wendy Mirin is a hematology nurse at Smilow who rode 10 miles for her patients.

“It was excellent to see so many supporters here,” said Mirin. “I even got a chance to take part in the Smilow Salute and see some of my patients.”

Members of the NBC Connecticut team participated in the ride including our own Mike Hydeck.

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