By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Stationary bicyclists were compelled by personal reasons to participate in the 10th annual Pedal to End Cancer (formerly known as Spin for Hope), a three-hour event held March 2 at Wayside Racquet & Swim Club. In 10 years, Wayside has raised $172,269 and counting for the American Cancer Society.
Nia Benoit, who coordinated the fundraiser locally for her sixth year, shared her motivation.
“My father is a survivor,” she said. “He beat bladder cancer twice through a really innovative technique. He didn's have to do chemo or radiation; he did another treatment that worked for him. Knowing that a new treatment helped my father beat the disease makes me feel like there are opportunities out there to help others have the same success.”
When the fundraiser began statewide in 2005, Wayside was one of six health clubs that participated. In the first nine years, Wayside was among the top five fundraising clubs, which rose to over 60 throughout New England. This year, Wayside placed a close seventh among 67 clubs.
With more donations expected following the event, Wayside collected $11,685 this year with 32 participants. Dan Benoit, Nina's husband, raised the most at Wayside with $2,040, making him the eighth top fundraiser among 868 participants in New England.
Riders could register either as an individual and cycle for the entire three hours, or form a team of two or more people and take turns cycling. This year at Wayside, seven individuals cycled for the full three hours including General Manager Darren McLaughlin. Most of them approached the task by preparing in advance, Benoit noted.
“We do two 90-minute training rides, one in January and one in February, for people who are riding the whole three hours,” she explained. “Regular spin classes are 45 or 60 minutes, so it's good to get training with that extra time.”
The other participants were in teams of two to five.
Benoit was one of seven spin instructors who volunteered their time to lead 25-minute segments of the three-hour ride. The other instructors were Scott Duval, Teresa Iapalucci, Michelle Labich, Debbie Pickett and Pamela Weltz.
A banner was hung on a wall next to the stationary bikes, which has become known as the Wall of Hope. Participants wrote notes on the banner to honor or memorialize a loved one. Several photographs were attached to the banner.
“One girl had a picture of her dad right in front of her on her bike,” Benoit noted. “It's important for people to be able to share why they'se riding in Pedal to End Cancer.”