More than 400 cyclists and volunteers took to North Shore roads last weekend - including trekking through Hamilton and Wenham - and raised more than $80,000 for cancer research.
Among those riders was Michael Maginn of Hamilton. For him, the Sept. 12 event - called "A Reason to Ride" - holds special meaning.
A few years ago Maginn's daughter Nora was diagnosed with cancer during a routine physical for a visa application. She was overseas when her cancer was diagnosed and she quickly returned home for treatment.
During that trying time Maginn turned to an old friend, A Reason to Ride founder Tom DesFosse.
DesFosse and Maginn rode together during AIDS research benefit rides in the mid-1990s and being a brain cancer survivor, DesFosse knew what Maginn was going through. DesFosse encouraged Maginn to join A Reason to Ride and channel his energy into helping support research and finding a cure.
Maginn dove in without hesitation and assisted with organizing the ride, lending a hand with mapping out and coordinating water stations throughout the course.
Maginn has continued that effort every year since with assistance from National Honor Society members from Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School.
Several local riders in this year's ride commented on how valuable the water stations were and how well their community was represented by the students from the high school.
Nora's cancer treatment was successful, and as a cancer survivor, she rides in the event along with her father and mother, vowing to continue to be devoted the the event and to finding a cure for cancer.
As Maginn puts it, "I don't know anyone who has not been effected by cancer, it's a reason to ride."
In addition to the ride this year, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Fuddruckers-sponsored event included a car show dubbed "Cruisin' for Cancer", a trike-a-thon, music and Fuddruckers BBQ.
The money raised at the event will be used for care and research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
A Reason to Ride is part of Beth Israel's Grateful Nation program that provides ideas, tools, and encouragement for people to say thank you by helping to support cancer care and research.
A Neighborly Introduction
Gerry Fallon of Hamilton completed his third consecutive 50 mile Reason to Ride this year and calls the event a "win–win."
Three years ago Fallon was gearing up to get back in shape and decided that biking would be his way to do it. In the same way Maginn can credit DesFosse for getting him involved, Fallon can credit Maginn, one of his neighbors, for introducing him to the ride.
Fallon said that A Reason to Ride was "something good to spur me to get back into biking" and has become a rewarding event that is "growing every year."
Fallon rides the 50 mile route.
"It's a beautiful ride all the way to Gloucester and in many spots you get beautiful views of the ocean," he said.
Fallon said the course, the cause and the camaraderie among riders will definitely bring him back again next year.
Wenham Breast Cancer Survivor 'Gives Back'
Lisa Carey of Wenham is also a cancer survivor and rider.
Carey was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer on Dec. 20, 2007 at 37.
Carey endured chemotherapy, radiation, and numerous surgeries and had just started riding again when she met DesFosse at a Gordon College Duathlon.
After talking with him about A Reason to Ride, Carey concluded "this is a perfect goal ... the 50 mile ride."
Carey said that her excitement about the event grew "mostly because I was feeling well enough to ride." Not to be left out, Carey's husband rode the 10 mile course with the couple's two daughters, Emma, 9, and Olivia, 7.
When Carey arrived the day of the ride this year, event coordinators were taking pictures of all of the participant holding a sign that read "I am grateful for ..." with a blank spot for riders to fill in their individual thoughts. Carey said that she knew right away that she was grateful "to be a survivor."
Like so many others who participated in this event, Carey credited the support she received from the Hamilton-Wenham community throughout her cancer battle. She said that while in treatment she and her family received a full meal, delivered to their home, every other night.
"I would never want to go through it again, but I don't ever want to forget that time," she said, looking back. "It showed me how wonderful people can be."
She said that the overwhelming support of friends and neighbors inspired her to give back and A Reason to Ride is one way that she does it.