By Dana Bean
I’ve ridden in the two-day AngelRide for the past six years, and God willing, I’ll ride it for twenty six more!
I began riding AngelRide as a goal, something to shoot for in order to get back in shape after too many sedentary summers. I wanted to set an ambitious goal, both in terms of miles (I hadn’t ridden 135 miles over two days in a LONG time), and dollars to raise – a thousand dollars seemed like a lot. As it happened, the fundraising wasn’t so hard, we (my wife and I) raised over two thousand dollars that first year!
On the first day of my first AngelRide, I began to see the magic of the AngelRide “family”. The volunteers – who handle every detail from the time we arrive in Norfolk, CT at the starting line, are amazing! They check us in, feed us, handle our bags, cheer us on our way and keep us safe, fed, watered, and rolling across eighty five miles of northern Connecticut. They work their buns off to make the ride work in every detail, and cheer for those of us riding the bikes as if we were doing the hard part. The riders – in all shapes and sizes, on all sorts of bikes good-naturedly pedaling across the miles – climbing challenging hills, and zooming through the shaded woods, are having too much fun to think of it as being hard work (mostly).
Once we reached Camp in the afternoon, the magic of AngelRide merged and morphed into the MAGIC of camp! The volunteers were still there, looking after the details, cheering us in and whisking us to our cabins, and ensuring that we were aware of the massages, tours, snacks, and other fun that was there for us (I had to keep wondering why these people were thanking me when they seemed to be doing all the work). The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp staff was there too. They were cheering, thanking, and hustling too, but there was something else – a positive energy, a power and (there’s just no other word for it) a magic.
The magic continued through the evening, as we went to the theatre and heard from current and former campers and their families, who told us about the power for good that the camp and the Hospital Outreach® Program (HOP) have had for them. The programs mean A LOT to all of these wonderful people and really contributes to their health and healing as well as their happiness.
Then next morning, we met up with all the one day riders, and again, the volunteers were there at every turn to fire us up and move us out and on to Mystic, just as the day before. There again was the Moto-Crew, just as on the previous day – riding their motorcycles up and down the route, ensuring that everyone stays safe, warning of the challenging intersections, and generally ensuring that everyone had nothing but a great day on a bike. Fifty miles, again with some hills – but ending right on the ocean in Mystic, with a great party! Again, all these great people are thanking us – the riders! Amazing!
The Hospital Outreach® Program of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp touches the lives of tens of thousands of kids undergoing treatment for life-threatening conditions in hospitals across New England and as far south as Philadelphia. These kids and their families live in the solemn world of the patient – doctors, nurses, procedures, treatments, shots, pain, worry, and fear. HOP Specialists bring camp activities – music, arts and crafts, games and laughter – they aren’t doctors, or nurses, but they are friends, full of laughter and good times. They bring smiles and laughs to these kids – allowing them to BE kids – not patients – for a little while. There is no cost to the family or the hospital – the entire cost of each of these visits (about $50.00 per kid, per visit) is paid through donations. EVERY Dollar raised by AngelRiders and Volunteers goes directly to support the Hospital Outreach® Program – it’s what we do. I started out to ride in AngelRide to get into shape. It worked! But far, far more important to me now – I ride for the Kids and for the MAGIC healing power of the HOP and of the Camp. I’ll keep doing it as long as I can turn the pedals (maybe longer)!
. . . NEVER stop Climbing!