Last Mile Ride
The ride is held by Gifford Medical Center in support of the Randolph hospital’s end-of-life care program. This year’s ride is the medical center’s fourth annual and it is already attracting the attention of riders.
Mickey Eastman of Warren raised $2,200 last year for the cause and hopes to best that this year.
“I want to match at least what I did last year,” said Eastman.
Eastman called the ride a “great time” that brought her together with many friends and fellow riders.
“It was fun. It was a great cause. We had a really good time last year. It was a great turnout, and I just thought it would be fun to do again,” said Eastman of why she’s already registered and is again raising funds for the cause.
Gifford provides special care in a garden-side suite, the Garden Room, for patients at the end of life and to their grieving families. The charity motorcycle ride was created by a Gifford motorcycle rider and nurse, Lynda McDermott, to support the Garden Room and special services for dying patients, like massages for pain management, family photos by Braintree professional Janet Miller, care packages, bereavement mailers, Grief and Loss support sessions, help with Advance Directives, staff training and much more.
The ride is about 100 miles in length. Staging begins at 8:30 a.m. Riders register and enjoy a continental breakfast before departing at 10 a.m. This year’s route is expected to take riders on a loop to the south.
Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak leads the ride and the Vermont chapter of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association provides essential “road guard” services. The ride ends at Gifford with a barbecue, band and celebration. Randolph’s Hillary and the Party Crashers will perform. Massages Professionals of Randolph volunteers will provide riders free chair massages.
Riders are also offered free commemorative pins, T-shirts if they register by Aug. 1 and this year will also receive free bandanas for registering early.
The ride costs motorcyclists $50 ($75 for a rider and passenger), but they’re encouraged to fund-raise the fee from donations from friends and family, and to raise more. Those who raise the most win prizes from area motorcycle dealers. In past years, riders’ efforts have added up big.
Since the ride’s inception in 2006, total money raised has grown from $7,000 that first year to $15,000 in 2007 and $23,000 in 2008 thanks to riders’ efforts and tremendous community support from area businesses.
“We’re hoping to again top last year’s fund-raising effort, and show riders a great time,” said Ashley Lincoln, director of the Development, Marketing and Public Relations Department at Gifford. “With more funds raised, we can help more people, and if you have ever talked to someone about their experiences in the Garden Room, you’ll know the value of the help our caregivers’ provide.”
“The staff, from housekeeping, dietary, nursing and doctors, puts its heart and soul into each patient,” explained Gifford Palliative Nurse Coordinator Pamela Fournier. “If someone I loved was dying, I would want it be at Gifford.”
Fournier is part of an interdisciplinary Advanced Illness Care Team and one of several Gifford staff specially certified in palliative care. The Garden Room, for which the hospital is known, opens to a courtyard perennial garden that’s magnificent in summer and provides patients beauty and fresh air in their dying hours. Patients have been married in the Garden Room. Community hospice singing group River Bend, which formed as a result of Last Mile Ride funds, has sung in the garden or at the bedsides of the dying, both at Gifford and in the community.
Charlie Amico, past commander of the Vermont chapter of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, has volunteered countless hours to the ride since its start.
“I love the ride. Look at what we do with the ride: we help people. We make people’s end of life better. We give people what they need to be as comfortable as they can be at the end-of-life,” Amico said.
Reg Mongeur, a Vermont Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association member, said the veterans give of their time to the ride for the same reason they went to war: to serve.
“(I ride) to help the people who need the Garden Room services and end-of-life care, and just because that’s what we veterans do. We went to war to help our country, and now that we’re here that’s what we’re going to continue to do: help our country,” said Mongeur, a road guard who brings up the rear of the ride on his trike.
Mongeur has done the ride since its start.
If you’d like to join a future ride and don’t have a bike of your own, the hospital is offering the opportunity to win one. Thanks to the generosity of ride sponsor Lucky’s Motor Sports of Royalton, Gifford is raffling of a brand new Yamaha V Star 950. Tickets are $40 each or three for $100.
Other sponsors include Connor Contracting, Acadia Benefits, E-Management, Rain or Shine Tent Co., Northfield Savings Bank, Magee Office Plus, Gillespie Fuels, Hannaford, Helms and Co., Mascoma Savings Bank and Schiring Radiographic Imaging.
Anyone wanting more information on the ride can call 728-2380, or visit the hospital’s Web site, www.giffordmed.org, and click on the link to the ride page. The site features downloadable registration forms, pictures from past years’ rides and more.
The route will be published closer to the ride, so spectators know where and when to gather.