LYNNFIELD — The weekend’s heat wave did not discourage cyclists, supporters and volunteers from participating in Sunday’s 28-mile bike ride to end cancer.
While other outdoor events were canceled as forecasters predicted the heat index would exceed 100 degrees, hundreds of cyclists turned up for the 15th annual Reid’s Ride from Lynnfield High School to Stage Fort Park in Gloucester.
The event raised more than $200,000 to fight cancers striking young people. Among the participants was the Lynnfield Moms Group, which raised nearly $2,500. Since its inception, the charitable event has raised $3 million to fight cancer.
Proceeds raised from Reid’s Ride have launched adolescent and young adult programs at Tufts Medical Center and Connecticut Children’s Hospital. In addition to providing age-appropriate treatment and improved access to clinical trials, these programs have trained dozens of newly-minted oncologists in this specialized area, organizers said.
Lynnfield High School All-Star swimmer Reid Sacco was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2003. An accomplished pianist and violinist who had been accepted at Columbia University, he died two years later at age 20. That year, his parents, Gene and Lorraine Sacco, and a group of volunteers launched the Annual Reid’s Ride 28-Mile Bike Ride to Fight Adolescents and Young Adults Cancer.
At the time, adolescents and young adults with cancer were mostly ineligible for clinical trials for new drugs and treatment because researchers typically recruited pediatric or adult patients. But that’s changing. This year, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration began to encourage the inclusion of young people in all phases of clinical trials for new cancer treatments.
Reid’s parents have made it their mission to raise awareness of cancer in young people.
The ride got started with Venere Salzillo, who sang the Miley Cyrus hit “The Climb.” The song was chosen as the Reid’s Ride theme song because its emotional lyrics capture the essence of Reid’s Ride, she said.
“After all, for AYA cancer patients and for all Reid’s Ride riders, supporters and volunteers it’s all about the climb,” Salzillo said.
Given the humid temperatures, race organizers took extra precautions to protect riders from the warmer-than-normal weather.
The Reid’s Ride Safety Team began its day early at the starting line advising riders to hydrate before setting out, even if not feeling thirsty, and to take advantage of the extra supplies of ice and bottled water.
So-called chase teams, equipped with ice and bottled water, patrolled the route. The number of fully-stocked water and ice stations along the route were doubled. Several residents along the route provided misting stations for cyclists.
Fortunately, the route from Lynnfield to Gloucester traces the Cape Ann shoreline where riders were treated to cool breezes.
Despite the day’s success, Lorraine Sacco said she’s not done.
“There is more work to do,” she said. “Especially in closing remaining gaps faced by this underserved population of cancer patients.”