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Bike ride to benefit Niagara Hospice set for May 14 at Krull Park

OLCOTT – Dust off that bicycle. Teams are already forming for the third annual Hospice Gran Fondo, planned for the scenic back roads of Niagara County on May 14. All proceeds benefit Niagara Hospice.

All travel starts and finishes at Krull Park in Olcott, and the ride offers three routes – 62.5 miles, 30 miles and 15 miles – to appeal to all levels of ability.

In addition to riders, event organizers also are seeking volunteers to help with setup and cleanup and manning the pit stops, according to Maureen Rizzo, advancement coordinator for Niagara Hospice.

“We need some volunteers to help set up the day before and some to stay and help clean up later in the afternoon the day of the event,” Rizzo said. “We also need volunteers, and even sponsors, who bring snacks for our riders at our pit stops. We have a group from a church who will volunteer for this, as well as friends from a fitness group, and I still have a couple of openings.”

Seven members of the Niagara Wine Trail will host pit stops: Chateau Niagara Winery, Honeymoon Trail Winery, Midnight Run Winery, Woodcock Brothers Brewery, Victorianbourg Wine Estate, Schulze Vineyards and Winery and Black Willow Winery. And, a post-ride party at Krull Park in Olcott will feature live music, food, beer and wine tastings.

This will be the third year that Beth Flack, therapy office manager for Northgate Healthcare Facility in North Tonawanda, will hop on her bike for this event. She serves as captain of the McGuire Group’s Northgate Gran Fondo team.

Flack said the McGuire Group’s wellness program touts the benefits of losing weight, visiting farmers markets and events such as the Gran Fondo, which features fresh air and exercise while raising money for a good cause.

“It’s all about getting out and getting moving,” she said, adding that her team is trying to draw participants from other McGuire Group entities, as well, for the Gran Fondo.

“This is not a race, it’s a ride,” she added. “It’s for a good cause and it’s a good time.”

Flack said she was not a serious bike rider when she first participated three years ago, completing the 15-mile event. But she then decided to tackle the 62.5-mile course the next year. And she’s looking forward to it again this May.

“This is a wonderful thing and that’s one of the reasons we like this event – it’s all-encompassing,” she said. “We have riders, but we send a lot of volunteers, too, who might help set up the pit stops where riders stop to rehydrate and eat something.

“It’s very scenic – it’s a gorgeous ride,” Flack said.

Through her job, Flack is in a position to see many of the benefits of hospice, as the Niagara Hospice-supported “Jeanne’s House” at Northgate offers hospice care for up to 22 patients.

“That entire complex has been redone and it’s wonderful because many of our patients can go there right from here and they are already familiar with our staff, and their families are familiar with us,” she explained. “Jeanne’s House has the hospice staff and our staff. And, hospice provides the patients with other things, like massage therapy and music therapy, too, for example. I was very happy for our patients when they opened Jeanne’s House.”

Niagara Hospice offers its services to seriously ill patients wherever they live, whether it is in their home, the home of a caretaker, Hospice House in Lockport, or in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or adult homes. Hospice complements the individualized care offered in a nursing home, for example, by providing its own resources and services to the patient and to the patient’s family. It strives to meet the patient’s physical, spiritual and psychosocial needs.

Niagara Hospice is a not-for-profit organization. Hospice care is a fully covered Medicare and Medicaid benefit and most private insurers also include a hospice benefit, but Niagara Hospice does not turn anyone away who cannot afford care.

The Gran Fondo is presented by M&T Bank, and sponsored in part by Tops Markets.

For more information, a full list of sponsors, and online registration, visit: www.HospiceGranFondo.com. For volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, contact Rizzo at mrizzo@niagarahospice.com or at 280-0728.