Last Mile Ride returns Aug. 20
RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center’s annual charity motorcycle ride for end-of-life care, the Last Mile Ride, rolls into Randolph for the sixth year in a row on Saturday, Aug. 20 and organizers are announcing some exciting changes and returning favorites.
The Last Mile Ride supports special services for patients in advanced illness or at the end-of-life, and their families. Gifford, a 25-bed non-profit medical center in Randolph, offers special care and services to patients at the end of life through its Garden Room suite for dying patients.
Money raised from the ride goes to support patient and family services, such as free massages for patients for pain management, meals for families staying with their loved one in the Garden Room or another room at Gifford, “comfort kits” containing materials like a soft prayer shawl and writing materials to record last wishes, bereavement materials and special one-time gifts for family expenses, such as a wheelchair ramp. Funds also go to staff training and education.
An Advanced Illness Care Team additionally works to improve end-of-life patient care. Among the multidisciplinary team members are two doctors and a nurse specially certified in palliative care.
About the ride
The ride was founded in 2006 by Gifford inpatient nurse Lynda McDermott of Randolph. The Last Mile is a 100-mile escorted ride through beautiful central Vermont led by Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak with road guard services provided by combat veterans who each year donate their time to the ride.
The event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. at the medical center with registration, a continental breakfast, remarks and a blessing of the bikes before riders take off at 10 a.m.
This year’s ride will take motorcyclists into Bethel and Rochester, through Mad River Valley, pass through the outskirts of downtown Montpelier, continue to Northfield and Roxbury, and hit downtown Randolph (traveling south) at about 1:30 p.m.
Riders return to Gifford to a barbecue lunch, music, free chair massages from Massage Professionals of Randolph and prize awards for the top fund-raisers. Door prizes are also awarded, and a brand new 2011 Harley-Davidson Iron 883 is being raffled off thanks to the generosity of Wilkins Harley-Davidson in South Barre along with a quilt made by Gifford staff.
Riders also get commemorative pins and a free ride T-shirt if they register by Aug. 1. Registration is $50 for one person and $75 for a rider and passenger. Riders, however, are encouraged to fund raise the registration fee by collecting tax-deductible gifts from friends and family.
Reg Mongeur of Williamstown is one of the road guards and a top fund-raiser.
“I wouldn’t miss this for anything in the world. The Last Mile Ride is the best. I have gone to every one and I hope to do many more. It is for the greatest cause ever. If you ever knew anyone who has been in the Garden Room, you will want to support this ride,” Mongeur writes on the ride’s Facebook page, where others riders and event supporters are encouraged to join the discussion.
New this year
New this year are some options for that Harley. The winner of the raffle can take the Iron 883, trade it toward another bike at Wilkins or take $5,000 cash.
Also new is the ride’s entertainment. Froggy 100.9 will provide this year’s music for the after-ride celebration and barbecue and will also broadcast live from the event.
This year’s mid-way break point in the ride is the scenic Mad River Glen ski area in Fayston.
Finally, a second Gifford nurse is bringing a new tradition to the ride. Marci White last year did a nearly 40-mile loop on her bicycle as part of the ride and this year White is looking for cyclists to join her as a bicycle route is officially added.
The bicycle route will take cyclists 38.4 miles from Gifford out Route 12A to Northfield and back to Randolph on Route 12.
Much more information about the event is available online at www.giffordmed.org, including registration and pledge forms, details on the raffles, pictures from past years’ rides, this year’s motorcycle and bicycle routes and more.
Generous sponsors of this year’s ride so far include Wilkins, Lucky’s Trailer Sales, Connor Construction, E-Management Associates, Northfield Savings Bank, Kilbride and Harris insurance company, Mascoma Savings Bank and MetLife financial services.