| The warm weather has us thinking about the Last Mile Ride. This year’s ride (our eighth annual!) is Saturday, Aug. 17 and will be very similar to past rides. It will include:|
The minimum cost for motorcyclists and cyclists to participate in the ride is $50 and $75 for a motorcycle rider and a passenger. Our motorcyclists will receive commemorative pins and enjoy an escorted route through some of Vermont’s most beautiful countryside. Riders then return to live music from Jeanne and the Hi-Tops, a barbecue lunch and prize awards.
- An approximately 100-mile motorcycle ride
- A 38.4-mile cyclist ride
- A 5K run/walk
- Harley raffle! (Buy a $100 ticket - only 125 available - for a 2013 883 Sportster from Wilkins Harley-Davidson in Barre, trade toward a bike of your choice or choose $5,000 cash.)
Cyclists ride to Northfield and back, returning to our barbecue and celebration.
The 5K can both be a challenge for the more serious exercise enthusiast or just a fun walk. We added the walk last year at the urging of an enthusiastic volunteer and so more people would be able to participate and support the cause.
The Last Mile Ride was created in 2006 by a Gifford nurse and motorcycle rider, Lynda McDermott, to support special services, primarily comfort measures, for our patients in advanced illness or at the end of life. That first year, the ride raised $7,000 and we were astounded by the support. Each year the ride has grown in terms of both participation and dollars raised. Last year participants - now numbering in the hundreds - raised $54,000 for our patients.
The funds are used for services both in our Garden Room inpatient suite for patients in the last mile of life and their families, and for patients at home. Thanks to riders’ efforts, end-of-life patients receive free services such as massages, acupuncture, Reiki and music therapy for pain control and comfort. A local photographer, Janet Miller, takes family photos, setting them to music on a DVD as a lasting memory and tribute. And we grant many special wishes. Those wishes are diverse. It could be wheelchair ramp, gas cards to help with the cost of traveling for treatment, a trip to ball game, a party, transportation for family to visit a patient near the end or, in one case, even an ambulance across multiple states to die with family.
Funds also support some materials for the Garden Room, like comfort carts (food for families while they stay) and comfort kits for patients. The cost of Advance Directive booklets and education, so all of us can make our end-of-life treatment wishes known and remove that burden from our families, is supported. Some staff training – Gifford has multiple palliative care doctors and nurses specially trained to meet patients’ needs – has been supported in the past as have bereavement materials for families.
Supporting the needs of our sickest patients is what the Last Mile Ride is all about and each year overwhelming support for the cause is evident as motorcyclists, cyclists and runners alike participate in memory of loved ones.
Many come, however, not in memory of a loved one. Sure, they support the cost, but they also love a great ride. And we put on a great ride. A local chapter of combat veterans serve as essential road guards, Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak leads us and police departments along the route block intersections so we can proceed uninterrupted. Community members often line the route with signs and applause to thank the riders. Riders start the day with a continental breakfast, take a break mid-route and are welcomed back to a party.
For all the gravity, it is a great event and a great ride. We can’t wait to have you join us.
Call us at (802) 728-2284 with questions, and look for more details, including registration information, as we get closer.
Participants may fundraise their registration fee and more for the cause. Top fundraisers win prizes!
Our generous sponsors!
Frankenburg Agency, Inc
Booth Brothers Dairy
Magee Office Products
Schiring Radiographic Imaging
Fred C. Church Insurance
White River Credit Union