By Jean Cervi
Let it never be said that one person cannot make a difference in the world.
When New Hope resident Caryl Harris’ newborn grandson Avery was diagnosed with a life-threatening gastrointestinal (GI) disease that left him facing a lifetime of hospital stays and ongoing medical treatments that would cost far more than insurance would cover, she jumped into action by combining forces with her employer. Working together, she and V5 Cycles have created the Avery’s Hope Charity. Sunday, Sept. 4, will mark the first cycling event in Avery’s name.
The event is comprised of approximately 60 cyclists who ride for 30, 65 or 100 miles, and takes place to raise money and awareness for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia GI Floor. The ride will be a challenge for the cyclists as it winds along the country roads of Hunterdon and Warren counties, but there will also be shortened “bailout” routes available for participants.
While this is the first year of the event, organizers hope to turn it into a foundation for numerous fundraising events. The thrust of Harris’ brainchild is helping parents who have little or no medical insurance to cover the extraordinary medical expenses of children who suffer from rare GI conditions. Previously, she was involved with AIDS charities but her grandson’s illness changed her focus toward helping other families with sick children like Avery, while continuing to help with the AIDS rides that V5 Cycles supports.
Harris’ involvement in charity cycling events goes back more than 30 years to 1983, when her grandmother suffered a stroke and was taken to a New York City hospital. She said it was during the AIDS pandemic, and in the next room was a man dying from AIDS.
“His room was yellow hazard taped, his family disowned him and his partner was not allowed to visit because he wasn’t ‘family’,” recalled Harris. “I could only see his emaciated body and face through the small glass in the door. I never forgot him. When AIDS rides started to happen, I rode in the Northeast AIDS Ride, AIDS Life Cycle in California, and then became involved with the New Jersey Ride Against AIDS.”
Now, Harris has expanded that passion for helping others into a charity ride that will offer support to families facing the prognosis of expensive and ongoing GI disease treatments for their children with no or little insurance to cover the exorbitant costs.
The Avery’s Hope Charity site states that, “The event is 100% to charity and 100% volunteer. Fundraising is up to the rider, but we do suggest that you try and raise a minimum of $500. Due to corporate sponsorship, we are now able to put all registration fees toward our charity.”
Anyone wishing to participate, volunteer or donate can find details of the event on the website. The event takes place Sept. 4 at 7 a.m., and departs from V5 Cycles, 140 Highwwy 31, in Flemington, N.J.
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