When Staples grad Susan Lloyd lost first her leg, and then her life, to bone cancer, her family could have wallowed in self-pity.
When Fairfield native Jeff Keith lost a leg to cancer at age 12, he could have limped along and watched life from the sidelines.
They did not.
And countless area cancer patients and their families have benefited as a result.
Since 1982, the Susan Fund has awarded hundreds of college scholarships to young people suffering with cancer. Since 2005, Jeff’s CT Challenge has helped cancer survivors live healthier, happier lives through fitness, nutrition, health and support programs. Fittingly, Jeff was one of the first Susan Fund recipients.
The 2 organizations work closely together. For example, the CT Challenge’s Center for Survivorship in Southport hosts the Susan Fund awards ceremony.
And on Saturday, July 26 there are 25, 50, 75 and 100-mile bike rides, all starting at the Fairfield County Hunt Club. A 2-day ride starts the day before in Lakeville, Connecticut, and ends at the Hunt Club.
Over 1,000 riders — all of whom raise money to participate — are expected for this year’s 10th annual event. Last summer, they raised a record $1.65 million.
Part of the funds raised by the bike ride support the Susan Fund. The bulk goes to the CT Challenge Center for Survivorship. It’s the only standalone center of its kind in the country not affiliated with a hospital.
Other money goes to CT Challenge’s yoga program, camp and college scholarships for young cancer survivors, adventure outings for young adult survivors, support for women in lower socioeconomic areas, research projects, outreach services, a speaker series and more.
Last year, nearly 54,000 cancer survivors benefited from CT Challenge programs.
Among the riders this year is Jessica Ellison. A Staples grad and Susan Fund recipient, she’s majoring in molecular biology at Georgetown University. Jessica spent several years at Camp Rising Sun, inspiring youngsters with cancer. She’s now a counselor there, and will join the camp team at the CT Challenge.
Last year, Jessica and her parents rode with the Susan Fund team. This year, there are 2 Susan Fund teams entered in the ride.
Of course, you don’t have to be part of any team to participate. All you have to do is support a cyclist — or get on a bike yourself.
It’s a beautiful ride. Plus, the Lloyd family and Jeff Keith have already shown you the way.
(Click for more information on the CT Challenge bike rides.)