Day 7: Mix of Riding and Interaction

Start/End: Palmyra/Rochester, NY
Mileage: 25
Weather: pleasant

Today was a very busy day. We combined 20 miles of riding with a bunch of great events. We have a very early start to the day so I may keep this a little bit brief and then return to add details later, as I took many notes throughout the day so that I could remember things!

The ride this morning was dedicated to Mike, a local newscaster (in Palmyra) who had passed away from a type of colon cancer a few years ago. He was very well known throughout the community and well remembered.

Many of the team members who qualify must, at a time, rotate through the responsibility of van driving. Today was my chance to drive the van! Part of this task is to follow the cues for biking to make sure that the route is available for the riders and correct. Sometimes construction can block a route or make it unsafe, so a re-route is required. Today, part of the ride was on a bike trail, so obviously the van could not check that path very well. Despite some construction on the path with being closed, all the riders made it safely to our stay over. During the ride, our riders encountered another cyclist from Wisconsin who was riding from there to New York with all of their belongings on their bike. This young woman was a friend and future roommate of one of our cyclists, so that was super cool to run into her and have someone know about our organization.

After rolling into our stay over, the Church of Love Faith Center we enjoyed our lunch, which was the Chipotle burritos that were generously donated to us. This was a very wonderful donation appreciated by all and we are so thankful for the generosity of restaurants and businesses.

Afterwards, our group split up on two very different journeys. One group travelled to the Gilda Club while the other went to the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. I want to stress that both of these organizations were incredibly generous with their time in showing us about their organization and facility in addition to organizing portraits for us to collect on our trip. Additionally, they both we so generous in providing us with some great snacks for our afternoon to prepare us for our walk to the University of Rochester where we met a current Principle Investigator (PI), or a professor who runs a research lab and one of her current post-doctoral students. Both were fortunate to have been/currently be a Damon Runyon fellow. They spoke about their research work and answered questions that we had.

I will be adding more about the Gilda Club and Hope Lodge once I speak with more riders about their experiences, since I do not posses the power of time travel, so watch for an updated version (see below).

For dinner, we enjoyed some wonderful dishes prepared by Pastabilities in Rochester that were generously provided. There were quite a few great types of pasta, and again we just cannot thank these businesses enough.

All in all, still doing great. We are so excited be biking to Ankara Falls tomorrow that we are waking up an hour early so that everyone can hopefully get to spend some time at the falls. Tomorrow’s update should be fun, may be slightly delayed because it is a very long day….

Gilda’s Club and Hope Lodge

So this part of the post was added later, but I really wanted to make sure that I spoke about our visit to the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge and Gilda’s Club in Rochester, NY.

The American Cancer Society has Hope Lodges across the country near cancer treatment centers in order to provide housing for patients and caregivers who must travel a large distance to receive treatments. They are similar in concept to Ronald McDonald houses, if you are familiar with those. But they are set up like a hotel, in a way, where each patient can have a room with their own bathroom, all designed around the comfort of a patient receiving cancer treatments. There are also many community areas so that visitors can interact with each other. The facility had a library and a kitchen for the guests to eat in- many of the meals during the week are prepared for by volunteer groups, though the option exists for guests to prepare and keep their own food. All of the appliances in the kitchen and laundry room are provided by Whirlpool across each of the locations and refreshed every few years so that things do not break with their extensive use. ACS also has a “Look Good, Feel Better” program, which allows patients to pick out a wig free of charge if they are going through a treatment where they experience hair loss. This can be very tough for a patient, so this is just a great service. Many of the wigs are donated through Pantene Beautiful Lengths program, which is where some of the members of Illlini 4000 have made hair donations to in the past! The Hope Lodge was just amazing, though, and made getting the proper treatments easier and hassle-free for patients.

Part of our group visited Gilda’s Club, a clubhouse of sorts which is named for Gilda Radner, the late comedian who passed away from cancer. It is a cozy house setting, as opposed to a sterile environment where patients ages 3 and beyond can come for various types of programming free of charge. There are support groups, but their are also different classes for hobbies offered, such as art or cooking. There are rooms that are geared towards different age groups so that folks of all walks of life can be welcomed. I did not personally go to Gilda’s Club, but the group that went really enjoyed their tour and experience of the facility and even got some great t-shirts to commemorate their visit!

Both of our hosts for this day’s activities were incredibly generous with their time and in providing us refreshments throughout the day. We really did learn a lot about part of the cancer community that many of us had not experienced before, so we are glad to have made such wonderful connections in Rochester and look forward to possibly seeing them again on future trips with Illini 4000!

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