Barre Serviceman Comes Home to Motorcycle Prize

Medic won Gifford’s Last Mile Ride Harley Davidson Raffle while Serving in Afghanistan

Cody Flanagan

From left to right, Wilkins Harley-Davidson owner Barbara Wilkins, co-owner John Lyon, Tim Flanagan, Vermont Lt. Governor Phil Scott, Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin; front: Cody Flanagan

When specialist Cody Flanagan, a medic with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, arrived home on holiday leave Sunday, a visit to Wilkins Harley-Davidson in Barre was high on his list of things to do.

He’d been waiting since August to climb onto the seat of a shiny new Harley Sportster 48, the raffle prize from Gifford Medical Center’s Last Mile Ride, an annual fundraiser to support patients in advanced illness or at the end of life.

Cody knew the bike well: his dad had taken him riding on the same model when he was a kid, and he’d posed with it for his senior photo in the Spaulding High School yearbook.

But he was surprised by a crowd the Wilkins family had gathered to welcome him in style on Tuesday afternoon. Gifford staff and volunteers, Wilkins staff, and even Vermont’s Lt. Governor Phil Scott cheered and enjoyed pizza and cake.

“Community support like this is really nice,” Cody said. “A surprise party was not expected!”

Last August he’d been in Afghanistan just a month, and was dealing with the recent loss of a battalion team member. Back home his father, Tim Flanagan, a respiratory therapist at Gifford, purchased four raffle tickets the night before participating in Gifford’s Last Mile Run.

“I bought four tickets and put two in Cody’s name,” Flanagan said. “The odds were 4 in 100 for a win, so I called him in Afghanistan to see if he would want the cash or the bike if we won.”

Cody wanted the bike, and when his name was pulled at the raffle drawing, one family’s joy rippled through to everyone witnessing the event.

“It really was an emotional moment,” says Linda Chugkowski, a Gifford board member who has done the Last Mile Ride for seven years. “Tim could hardly speak when Cody’s name was pulled— as the story moved through the crowd, people started clapping and then rose in a standing ovation. Tears were coming down all the faces.”

Tim Flanagan says it was a storybook ending. “It was meant to be. Now it’s so nice to have him home and safe. We can all sleep– we don’t have to worry about getting any calls.”

Gifford’s 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. Money raised at the ride goes directly to help patients with comfort measures, provides financial support to patients and families, and grants special wishes.

The 10th annual Last Mile Ride will be August 14 and 15, 2015. For more information, please contact Ashley Lincoln at alincoln@giffordmed.org.

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.

Another Labor of Love

Betsy Dawn quilt

Betsy Hannah, left, and Dawn DeCoff and her daughter, Hayley DeCoff, 10, right, pose with the beautiful quilt they made as an annual raffle item for the Last Mile Ride.

Each year the Last Mile Ride also features a quilt made by Gifford’s nursing staff and raffled off as part of the ride.

This year’s gorgeous queen-size scrappy star quilt is made by licensed practical nurse Betsy Hannah and licensed nursing assistant Dawn DeCoff as well as DeCoff’s young daughter, Hayley.

The elaborate quilt took the trio about two months to complete, and the machine quilting was donated by Piece of Mind Quilting in Canaan, N.H.

DeCoff has helped make a quilt for the ride since its inception and Hannah has helped the last several years. Both also donate quilts to other community causes.

“I love sewing. It relaxes me. It’s one of my many past-times,” says Hannah. “It’s great to be able to give things (to the community).”

This year’s quilt took on extra special meaning after her husband, Jim, died in November and Hannah received Last Mile Ride funds.

For DeCoff, it is also the cause that motivates her. As a part of Gifford’s inpatient care team, she sees the funds help families firsthand.

Tickets for the quilt – along with a new bicycle from Green Mountain Bikes in Rochester and a new Harley from Wilkins Harley-Davidson in Barre – are on sale at the hospital Gift Shop and in the Marketing Department and will be for sale at the ride.

‘A Labor of Love’

Sue Schoolcraft

Sue Schoolcraft poses outside of her Randolph Center home with her latest Menig quilt and her sewing machine, which she even packs on vacations so Menig Extended Care Facility residents get their quilts as soon as possible. It takes her between two days to a month to create each quilt.

The Last Mile Ride this Friday and Saturday at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph is a lot of things to a lot of people.

For the residents of the Menig Extended Care Facility, it is a splash of color and warmth during the last years of life.

Sue Schoolcraft’s mother always sewed. She made Schoolcraft and her twin brothers’ clothes and winter wear on a tiny, portable General Electric machine. “Until I was married, she made clothes for me,” says Schoolcraft, who was born at the start of World War II and amid the Great Depression.

Sue Schoolcraft

Sue Schoolcraft, who makes quilts for Menig residents thanks to funds raised each year at the Last Mile Ride, demonstrates a stitch.

Schoolcraft’s interest in quilting was born in high school in her native New York.

“I started probably right after high school. We had a history teacher and he would take us to museums and living history museums, and I saw all these quilts,” she says, recalling watching women quilting and then seeing a striking image of a Baltimore Album quilt in a magazine.

“It was beautiful. It just appealed to me,” says Schoolcraft.

Sue Schoolcraft

A quilting book tops a small stack of reading materials in Sue Schoolcraft’s living room.

Her mom helped her get started and she worked on that quilt, her first, for years – through marriage, children and moves to Swanton, Vt., Sheldon Springs, Randolph, Fairfax and Braintree Hill before finally moving to Randolph Center more than 40 years ago.

In Vermont, Schoolcraft found a quilting community. She joined an East Bethel hand crafters group, made a second quilt for her daughter and eventually sold at craft fairs.

Sue Schoolcraft

Menig resident Barb Reynolds’ quilt features bright greens. “I like the color of it and all the hard work that’s in it.” It is Barb’s first ever quilt, she says.

She was teaching a quilting class at her church in Randolph Center, the First Congregational Church of Randolph, when she saw an ad in the paper from the Menig Extended Care Facility in Randolph looking for quilts for its 30 nursing home residents.

Schoolcraft, a stay-at-home mom and avid sewer, responded and put her four students to work.

“They had just opened up the new Menig center,” Schoolcraft recalls. “We suddenly needed 30 quilts. I was teaching a quilt class at the time and we started making quilts.

“And I just loved it and kept on.”

Sue Schoolcraft

Menig resident Jean “Terry” Wilson loves her quilt’s colors, particularly the pink.

Today when a new resident moves in to Menig, 75-year-old Schoolcraft talks to the resident about his or her interests and likes, or receives this information from Menig staff, and gets to work herself making a personalized quilt.

One such quilt stands out in Schoolcraft’s memory. Her mother – that mother who taught her to sew – Dorothy Morack, lived at Menig during her final years.

“She wanted butterflies. So I found material,” Schoolcraft says. “It just made me happy to know that I was able to do something special for her after all the things she had done for me.”

A more recent quilt featured tractors, trees and a gambrel roof barn for a male resident.

Sue Schoolcraft

Mertie Seymour likes flowers, so that is what her quilt at Menig features.

While each is different – be it butterflies or barns – there is one constant to the quilts that neatly adorn each resident’s bed. “I try to do quilts in bright and cheerful colors, especially with our long winters,” says Schoolcraft, who hopes to uplift the residents during what for most are their final years.

The work is supported by the Last Mile Ride, Gifford’s annual charity motorcycle ride, cycle ride, 5K and 1-mile walk, which raises money for free services for people in advanced illness or at the end-of-life.

For Schoolcraft, the work is “a labor of love.” Occasionally, she gets thank you notes and relishes in residents’ reactions. “’Look what I got! Look what I got!’” said one. “’This is for me?’ Did you make this for me?’” inquired another.

“It just brings me happiness and joy to do this. It has many different aspects. It’s giving back to the community that has been so good to us,” she says of herself and husband Ron. “It connects us to people.”

The Last Mile Ride 5K run and one-mile walk is Friday. A 38-mile cycle ride and 79-mile motorcycle ride is being held on Saturday. The events raise money for special services for those in life’s last mile. Those services include alternative therapies such as massage and music therapy; food for families staying in Gifford’s Garden Room for end-of-life patients; professional family photos; family grants; gas cards to doctors’ appointments; and special family requests, such as a family trip to a Red Sox game, a flight to be at a loved one’s side, a handicapped ramp, or other small home improvements.

Log on to www.giffordmed.org or call 728-2284 to learn more. Participants can register on the day of the event.

A Spoonful of Thanks: Message from the Development Director

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

spoonful of thanksGifford’s is a story steeped in tradition, and one that has only grown more positive in recent years. As director of fund-raising efforts, telling that story of a small hospital making it and improving year after year despite the odds is such a privilege.

In 2013, that is even more true. We’re celebrating another year of major achievements, including “making” budget, earning Federally Qualified Health Center status allowing us to soon provide enhanced primary care to the community and receiving all approvals needed to move forward with the construction of a Senior Living Community in Randolph Center and private inpatient rooms at Gifford.

In 2014, moving forward on our Senior Living Community and private patient rooms will become a major focus for the Development Office, Development Committee and our new Campaign Steering Committee.

These committees are comprised of hardworking volunteers. The project has already generated much excitement from both donors and from community members hoping to one day make this community home.

Over time, the Senior Living Community will include the Menig Extended Care Facility nursing home, independent living units and assisted living units. This vision allows our friends and neighbors to age in place rather than leaving their community for similar housing.

Constructing the nursing home, building infrastructure for the entire community and creating private inpatient rooms, however, will take community support. This support is already being demonstrated among the Gifford community, including our Auxiliary, Board and Medical Staff, and soon will be an exciting public campaign where community members can help make this project a reality through financial investments.

Ours is a community that supports its hospital and patients. We continue to have remarkable success each year with our annual fund and once again we have raised a record amount in support of end-of-life care through the Last Mile Ride – our charity motorcycle ride held each year on the third Saturday in August. Participants, volunteers and local business sponsors make this event possible and so positive for our hospital and community. We look forward to continuing and growing this (now) Randolph tradition in 2014.

As always, there are many ways to support Gifford – as a donor, as a patient, as an employee and as a volunteer both at the medical center and through the Auxiliary. I welcome your inquiries on how you can become involved in our story of success and in bettering patients’ lives.

~ Ashley Lincoln, Director of Development

Patient and Giving Statistics

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.
Gifford financial giving 2013

Categories of giving by type

Each year Gifford is fortunate to receive generous gifts from our friends. Gifts are made to benefit specific purposes, such as technology or services, or to the general fund. The Last Mile Ride, which raises money for end-of-life care, continues to grow in popularity and benefits patients and their families. The pie chart shows the donations – all of which are greatly appreciated.

Gifford financial giving

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.

Last Mile Ride Raises Record $56,000 for Patients at End of Life

Last Mile Ride

The Stockwell family is ready to ride Saturday at Gifford Medical Center. (Provided: Janet Miller)

RANDOLPH – Nearly 300 motorcyclists, cyclists and runners/walkers participated in Gifford Medical Center’s eighth annual Last Mile Ride on Saturday, raising a record $56,000 for end-of-life care.

Beneath sunny skies, the day juxtaposed heart-wrenching, yet inspiring, stories of loss with a celebration featuring the high tempo sounds of “Jeanne and The Hi-Tops,” food, fun and prize awards.

Earning the top prize for his fund-raising efforts was Reg Mongeur of Randolph, who collected $3,458 from generous friends, family and strangers alike. A much-anticipated Harley/$5,000 cash raffle was won by Carol Bushey of Brookfield. A quilt made by Gifford nursing staff and a patient went to Martha Howe of Randolph.

Last Mile Ride

Runners sprint through the start line of the 5K Fun Run as part of the Last Mile Ride. (Provided: Tammy Hooker)

Palliative care physicians Dr. Cristine Maloney and Dr. Jonna Goulding along with rider/founder and Gifford nurse Lynda McDermott all addressed the crowds, offering thanks for riders’ efforts to make the hospital’s dream of providing alternative therapies, special wishes and more for free for patients in the last mile of life.

“Everyone has arrived here today for unique personal reasons to unite in a larger, common cause. Many are motivated to be here to honor the loss of a loved one and to ensure that future families shepherding someone to the end of life are granted gifts or services … ,” Gifford Director of Development Ashley Lincoln said.

Last Mile Ride

Cyclists leave Gifford Medical Center Saturday for the Last Mile Ride. (Provided: Janet Miller)

“The enthusiasm of this crowd and the building excitement of riders garners more and more sponsors, gives me and the staff at Gifford … not only financial reserves but emotional reserves to walk alongside our friends and neighbors on some of their longest days,” Lincoln continued.

Shelly Pearce knows how long those days can be. Her husband Kevin died in the Garden Room on July 4. On Saturday, Shelly Pearce offered an emotional, personal thanks to riders.

“The Last Mile Ride funds helped us as a family in numerous ways,” said Pearce, describing massages for pain management, meals for the family, a gas card and a special family celebration. “So whether this is your first or your eighth time participating in the Last Mile Ride, I want you all to know what a difference you making in a patient and their family’s life. Keep participating or volunteering even if it seems like a small thing, because it is very important and appreciated.”

Last Mile Ride

Led by Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak, motorcyclists return to Gifford during the Last Mile Ride held Saturday in support of end-of-life care. (Provided: Janet Miller)

The Last Mile Ride began in 2006 when McDermott brought the idea forward to help provide comfort measures for people in life’s last mile. The first ride was held in 2006, and since its number of participants, funds raised and impact have all grown.

The event now includes a 5K and cycle ride in addition to the popular motorcycle ride. And this year’s event featured a Friday night “Kick-Off Rally” of dinner and dancing at the Three Stallion Inn with more than 80 community members and Last Mile participants in attendance.

The Randolph Area Chamber of Commerce made the event possible.

Last Mile Ride

Cyclists and motorcyclists line up for the post-ride BBQ. (Provided: Janet Miller)

The Last Mile Ride was made possible by a huge group of volunteers, who were mostly Gifford employees who gave up their Saturday to support the cause, as well as volunteers from the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak, the Green Mountain Bike Patrol, police support in multiple towns, and Terry Heath and Erin Bianchi of Massage Professionals of Randolph.

Significant community involvement came in the forms of people lining the event routes to show support and many, many sponsors. Among this year’s sponsors were the Frankenburg Agency Inc., Froggy 100.9, Lucky’s Trailer Sales, Northfield Savings Bank, Wilkins Harley-Davidson, Booth Brothers Dairy, Connor Contracting, E-Management Associates, Mascoma Savings Bank, Aubuchon Hardware, Barry T. Chouinard Inc., Dimmik Wastewater Service, Gillespie Fuels and Propane, Infinitt North America, K&R Rentals and Storage, Kleen Inc., Magee Office Products, MetLife, Rain or Shine Tent and Events Company, Schiring Radiographic Imaging, Superior Development and many others.

Next year’s Last Mile Ride will be Aug. 16, or the third Saturday in August.

Last Mile Ride

Shelly Pearce, right, offers her heartfelt thanks to Last Mile riders as her daughter, Samantha Blakeney, provides her comfort. Pearce’s husband, who was Blakeney’s stepfather, died just last month in the Garden Room at Gifford. The ride raises money for patients like Kevin and families like the Pearces. (Provided: Tammy Hooker)

Motorcycle Ride Honors Kevin Pearce, Others in Life’s Last Mile

On Saturday, Aug. 17, hundreds of motorcyclists, cyclists, and runners/walkers will take to the streets of the Randolph area for the Last Mile Ride. The ride raises money for special services for Gifford Medical Center patients in advanced illness and at the end of life.

This is one patient’s story.

Kevin Pearce

Kevin Pearce in 1976 at age 16. (Photo provided)

A native of Waitsfield, Kevin Pearce was born in Vermont in 1960. He moved to Massachusetts with his family when he was just 3. He grew up in Charlemont and Ashfield, Mass., dropping out of high school to work on a potato farm during a time when dyslexia was less understood and Kevin found himself labeled as “dumb” for his inability to read.

He went on to run heavy equipment, assembling and disassembling ski area chair lifts in Massachusetts, until tragedy brought him back to Vermont.

Kevin had been married, divorced, was engaged, and moving in with his fiancée when she was killed in an automobile accident by a drunk driver on her way to bring her final carload of belongings to what was to be their shared home.

Immediately following the funeral, Kevin packed a bag and took a bus to his native Vermont. Continue reading