A Trumbull couple lost their little girl Mia to cancer less than six months ago.
Now, Jim McCaffrey is gearing up for his second Closer to Free Ride in support of research and patient care at the Yale-New Haven Smilow Cancer Hospital.
“Being able to give back to the hospital that started our treatment for us and tried to provide a better life for our daughter is very important,” McCaffrey told NBC Connecticut.
McCaffrey biked for 100 miles in the 2016 ride, six months after doctors diagnosed his daughter with rhabdomyosarcoma.
“It’s a rare form of cancer that we found a tumor on her cheek,” McCaffrey said. “Mia was incredibly positive, she was the type of kid who did what she had to do.”
Throughout her treatment at Smilow in New Haven and in her hometown of Trumbull, Mia had a motto: Make It Amazing.
“It just really became our anthem and it became something that a lot of our community in Trumbull could get behind,” her dad said.
Next month, McCaffrey is riding on Team Make It Amazing. His little girl passed away on March 17 after a 364 day battle with cancer. She was six-years-old.
“To live through something like this is,” McCaffrey said, “there’s no words for it, we do what we can to keep moving forward and honor her as much as we can.”
“Mia took care of me,” her 5-year-old brother James said.
James and his big sister shared a bunk bed and a love for the Star Wars movies.
“We watched first all the way to last,” he said.
“Yeah, you’ve seen them all,” his dad added.
In June, on what would have been Mia’s 7th birthday, the family shot off a rocket.
“You think she saw it,” McCaffrey said. “I think Mia touched it,” James said.
For McCaffrey, who teaches high school English, getting back on a bike for his second Closer to Free Ride is the next chapter in in keeping Mia’s memory alive.
“It’s been really cathartic of late, you know, it’s been good,” he said, “so I’m going to get as many rides in as I can and keep raising as much money as I possibly can.”