Last Mile Ride Raises $60,000

Last Mile Ride

Runners take off for the Last Mile Ride 5K and walk on Friday at Gifford in Randolph. (Provided/Janet Miller)

Fueled by compassion, 154 runners and walkers, 201 motorcyclists and 38 cyclists gathered at Gifford Medical Center on Friday and Saturday for the Last Mile Ride, raising $60,000 for area residents in life’s last mile.

Now in its ninth year, the Last Mile Ride has grown to a two-day event that includes a timed 5K, one-mile walk, 38-mile cycle ride and 80-mile motorcycle ride. The annual event raises money for Gifford patients in and out of the hospital who are in advanced illness or at the end of life. Money raised at the ride goes directly to help patients with comfort measures, provides financial support to patients and families, and grants special wishes.

Last Mile Ride

Cyclists leave for the Last Mile Ride on Saturday. (Provided/Janet Miller)

This year marked both a record number of participants – 386 in total – and a record amount of money raised. It was also an event fraught with emotional highs and lows.

The event included a Harley-Davidson raffle. Cody Flanagan, 19, from Barre won the bike from Wilkins Harley-Davidson, but wasn’t there to receive it. He is in Afghanistan.

His father, Tim Flanagan, a respiratory therapist at Gifford, who bought two tickets in Cody’s name accepted on his behalf. The older Flanagan got out that his son was in Afghanistan before breaking down. He received a standing ovation.

Last Mile Ride

Motorcyclists wind their way through central Vermont as part of the Last Mile Ride on Saturday. (Provided/Alison White)

“I was just ecstatic and overwhelmed for Cody,” Tim Flanagan said Monday. “I just felt it was a storybook kind of finish. It was meant to be.”

Cody, a medic airborne ranger, who graduated from Spaulding High School a year early, joined the U.S. Army two years ago at age 17. He has been in Afghanistan a month. His battalion just lost a member on Aug. 12 and has been on an emotional low.

Tim Flanagan called his son in Afghanistan from the ride to tell him he had won. It was around midnight there and he was exhausted, but excited. “He’s quite ecstatic. He’s thrilled,” said his father, noting it has been a morale booster for the unit.

The moment was reminiscent of the cause, which uplifts families in difficult situations.

Last Mile Ride

Margaret Gish of Sharon races back toward Gifford in the fastest among a female at 20:49.7. (Provided/Janet Miller)

Robin Morgan spoke at the 5K and walk on Friday evening. She lost her step-father Michael Durkee to an aggressive cancer in May 2013. He spent his last days in the Garden Room – Gifford’s garden-side end-of-life care suite.

“Being in the Garden Room, we all got to be together. They were so supportive of us,” Morgan said. “They gave us food, (and) everything you can possibly imagine.”

Morgan and her family walked in the Last Mile last year and again this year. Morgan pushed her two young children in a double-stroller. “It (the Last Mile Ride) is a big part of my life now,” she said, before rushing to embrace her mom and Michael Durkee’s widow, Joan Durkee.

Last Mile Ride

Last Mile walkers return to Gifford Friday evening. (Provided/Janet Miller)

Palliative care nurse John Young on Saturday at the motorcycle and cycle ride spoke of the privilege of working at a hospital that supports palliative care and how lucky the hospital is to have the community’s support.

Physician assistant Starr Strong remembered her friend Judy Alexander who was “an incredible nurse, wonderful friend and mother.” A “Harley chick” and past participant of the Last Mile Ride, Alexander died in April of cancer.

Her family received assistance from the Last Mile Ride fund.

Last Mile Ride

Philip Tenney of Northfield walks over the finish line of the Last Mile Ride 5K. He came in last (1:00:14.0) but was first in many participants’ eyes. Three weeks earlier he had a lifesaving kidney transplant. (Provided/Alison White)

“It made her passing much richer because of the support from the Last Mile Ride,” Strong said, encouraging those present to recognize both the importance of their contribution “because you never know when it’s your turn” and to “celebrate life.”

The event also included the raffle of a bicycle from Green Mountain Bikes in Rochester. Richard Polarek, 88, from Brookfield won the bicycle. And a queen-size quilt made by Gifford nursing staff was won by motorcyclist Cherry Lloyd of Randolph.

Prizes were also given out for the events top fund-raisers and the top 5K finishers.

The fastest male finishers were Christopher Gish of Sharon (16:37.9), David Mattern of Tunbridge (18:47.6) and Zachery McDermott of Randolph (20:26.0). The fastest female finishers were Margaret Gish of Sharon (20:49.7), Becky Olmstead of Bethel (23:58:4) and Stacy Pelletier of Braintree (24:11.7). See a full list of race results online at www.begoodsports.com/race-results/.

Last Mile Ride

Smiling motorcyclist

The top 5K fund-raiser was Kyla Grace of Randolph and the top walk fund-raiser was Penny Maxfield of East Roxbury. The top cyclist fund-raiser was Cory Gould of Worcester. And the top motorcycle fund-raisers were Linda Chugkowski and Robert Martin of Northfield who collectively raised $4,000 for the cause and Reg Mongeur of Randolph who raised more than $3,500.

Mongeur spent many evenings at Shaw’s in Randolph collecting for the cause.

“I have the time and the desire,” said Mongeur of why he made the effort. “I’ve lost quite a few family members in the Garden Room and quite a few vets went through there.

“It’s just my way of giving back to the community,” said Mongeur, who also coordinated road guard efforts for the ride as a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 26-2.

Last Mile Ride

Runners, from front, Richard Kozlowski, Stacy Pelletier and Becky Olmstead race along Route 12 toward Beanville Road. (Provided/Alison White)

This year’s ride, he said, was “beautiful, absolutely gorgeous.” Riders returning it called it “the best.”

As top fund-raisers, Chugkowski and Martin won four Red Sox tickets and VIP tour of Fenway thanks to the generosity of the Red Sox and Froggy 100.9. Mongeur won four tickets to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway to see the Sylvania 300 thanks to the generosity of the Loudon, N.H., organization.

Many other prizes were given out, thanks to the generosity of local and regional businesses. The event also received record sponsorship support, including from major sponsors The Frankenburg Agency, Froggy 100.9, Lucky’s Trailer Sales, Northfield Savings Bank and Wilkins Harley-Davidson.

The 10th annual Last Mile Ride will be Aug. 14 and 15, 2015.

Message from the Development Director

The following was published in our 2012 Annual Report.

Development Department

Above left – Robin Palmer, Tammy Hooker and Ashley Lincoln – the team lucky enough to be charged with coordinating the Last Mile Ride each August, post for a photo. Above right – Jack Cowdrey, Chair of the Development Committee and one of the chase-truck drivers for the Last Mile Ride.

In this year’s Annual Report, we are fortunate to read stories from our long-time providers. Gifford is also fortunate to have many long-term supporters. Many of their names follow, but it is hard not to pull out one group for its remarkably long-standing relationship. That group is the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary.

In 2012, the now 106-year-old Auxiliary continued its support of Gifford programs and services, including “wish list” items awarded to individual hospital departments looking to improve care through new technology or training materials.

As these “wish list” gifts are distributed, there are often tears of thanks and happiness from the receiving department staff members. This speaks volumes to how much these gifts – and the Gifford Auxiliary – mean to the medical center and its patients.

Other major supporters in 2012 included those who gave to the Last Mile Ride. Now in its seventh year, this charity motorcycle ride raised a record $54,000 for end-of-life care and services. This year’s event brought a new run/walk and thus many new participants. Top among them was Todd Winslow and Lu Beaudry who raised more than $5,000 in memory of Todd’s mother, Joyce (read more about the Winslow family in our Donor Profile). The event was our largest individual fund-raiser to date.

The motorcycle ride is just one way to support Gifford. Many offer their community medical center financial support each year through an annual gift to the hospital or a special purpose fund. Others include Gifford in their will or trust, while still others choose a charitable gift annuity where they receive a predictable return on their investment.

Increasingly, community members are also expressing tremendous interest in our planned senior living community. That interest and enthusiasm has come in the form of financial support as well as interested residents. This project shows so much promise, and it is our utmost honor to be working to provide a solution to a serious problem in our region – a lack of local housing alternatives for those wanting to age in place, in their communities, rather than having to travel great distances.

As always, the Development Department is available by calling 728-2380 to discuss the many ways to support Gifford. Your investment truly makes a difference and the impact is far-reaching. Please don’t hesitate to ask us your questions or visit our website, www.giffordmed.org, to discover ways you can leave your legacy. New this year, we have included an option for online giving opportunities.

On behalf of Gifford, thank you. We appreciate your friendship.

~ Ashley Lincoln
Director of Development

Donor Profile: The Winslows

The following was published in our 2012 Annual Report.

donor profile

Above left – Peter and Joyce Winslow. Above right – Pictured at Magee is Peter and sons Todd and Dale. Not present is son Scott. Together they support community organizations, including Gifford.

Joyce Winslow instilled in her sons the value of giving.

“My mom told me there were two places in town that you need to take care of, because they can’t be replaced, and those are the hospital and Chandler,” Todd Winslow recalls.

For Joyce’s husband, Peter, the value of giving also came early on in life. During his childhood, his own mother went out of her way to give to the less fortunate. During their marriage, Peter and Joyce, in spirit and action, carried on that tradition.

The family nurturer and steadfast promoter of harmony, Joyce gave smiles and kindness to her children, their friends, and the customers she met at family-owned Belmains where she worked for more than 30 years. She was so thoughtful, says Peter, that if someone needed clothing, she’d take clothes right out of her own closet to give.

Together Joyce, Peter, their sons, and their first business – Magee Office Products, also in Randolph – have for years supported a variety of Vermont organizations, including annual gifts to Gifford. “We were a family of giving,” says Peter, who moved his family to Randolph in 1959.

When Joyce passed away in Gifford’s Garden Room 52 years later in November of 2011, it stands to reason that this family of giving once again considered how they could support their community. They designated both Gifford and Chandler for memorial donations in Joyce’s name. Memorial gifts soon came in great numbers.

The following summer Todd took up his mother’s memory once again as a participant in Gifford’s annual Last Mile Ride, a charity motorcycle ride for end-of-life care. Todd collected donations in Joyce’s name totaling more than $5,000 – the most money raised by a rider that year, or any year.

donor profileTodd credits the quality of the Garden Room and Gifford as two reasons behind the giving. “Most towns don’t have a hospital like Gifford,” he says.

But the real motivator was surely his mother.

“I really think it was because of my mom,” Todd said after the charity motorcycle ride in August. “One guy (I asked for a donation) said, ‘How can you not say yes?’”

In Joyce’s memory and for the good of their community, the Winslow family has made a tradition of saying yes.

Planned Gifts Leave a Lasting Legacy

planned givingThis information appeared in our Spring 2013 Update publication.

From the Birthing Center to the Menig Extended Care Facility, we rely on donors to help us to continue improving upon the care we are so privileged to provide.

Together, we are working toward a strong future for Gifford and our community. When you extend your support through your estate or long-term financial plans, your dedication to Gifford will continue as a part of your legacy for years to come. You are truly making a difference when you include Gifford in your will.

For more information about including Gifford in your planned giving, please contact: Ashley Lincoln in the Development Department at 728-2380 or visit www.giffordmed.org.