Driving force: Event to benefit cancer patients

Friday, August 22, 2008
Mike and Frances Gardner will participate in today's ride

Despite the fact that he is wheelchair-bound as a result of multiple sclerosis, Mike Gardner wants to do what he can to help others.

To that end, Gardner will participate in Granny Ride 2008 today -- riding his motorized wheelchair alongside the many motorcyclists taking part in the event.

"I just want to help," Gardner, who was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and has been in a wheelchair for about six months, said. "I can still do something, even though I'm in a wheelchair."

Granny Ride was launched in 2001 by the family of Judy "Granny" Rubeck, a Putnam County woman who succumbed to lung cancer that year.

"While dealing with the fact that our loved one was terminally ill, we discovered firsthand the hardship of an adult getting financial assistance from anywhere or anyone," said Rubeck's daughter, Frances Cancilla, who has been the lead organizer of the event for the past four years, taking the mantle from her father, Jerry Rubeck.

Cancilla's connection to the event runs very deep. She was battling a drug addiction when her mother became ill, and was in the throes of that addiction when her mother passed away.

"I was strung out on crack," she said. "I've been clean for five years now. I guess this is kind of how I deal with the guilt of not being there for my mom like I should have been."

Today's activities will begin with breakfast at 8:30 a.m. (cost is $5), followed by registration at 9 a.m., on U.S. 231 in Cloverdale next to Summerfield Nursing Home. Cost is $10 a person to ride or $15 per couple.

An auction will begin at 8 a.m., with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Granny Ride organization. At 10:30 a.m., a balloon release ceremony will be held (balloons are $1 each). The ride will begin after the release, with the last rider out by noon.

Other activities to be held throughout the day include a bounce house for children, bingo games and a scavenger hunt. There will also be a blood drive held from 8 a.m. to noon in conjunction with the Granny Ride

The ride aims to raise money for adults with cancer.

"We cannot eliminate all the bills, but we do help," Cancilla said. "Our commitment is to help find a cure, and to help adults affected with cancer and their families."

This year, half of the proceeds raised through the ride will be donated to The Wellness Community, an Indianapolis-based support and education center that provides free services to cancer patients and their families. The other half of the proceeds will be given to local cancer patients, who were selected by the Granny Ride committee.

"We had been focused on Owen and Putnam counties, but this year we opened it up to the whole state," Cancilla said. "People write us letters, telling us they're facing this and facing that and this is why they need help."

In the past, the ride benefited only one family; this year it will assist two, possibly more.

Granny Ride raises money in few different ways. The group takes private donations, sells t-shirts and holds scheduled events throughout the day of the ride.

More information on the Granny Ride can be found online at www.IndianaGrannyRide.com

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