The variable light rain on May 12 drove the post-ride activities of the PMC Kids Ride indoors, but a great batch of Suffield youngsters – 207 in all, ages 3 to 16 – weren’t deterred from their commitment. And the pre-event fundraising to provide the entrance fee and much more had been completed in the preceding months, so this year’s Kids Ride brought in $52,541 for cancer care and research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This was a new record for the Suffield event.
As before, the Ride began in the McAlister-Middle School parking lot, under the Suffield Fire Department’s giant American flag. Older kids rode their bikes up Hill Street to Russell Avenue and back, about two and a half miles. The younger kids, on various vehicles including tricycles, two-wheelers with and without training wheels, and a strange contraption with four small wheels propelled by S-turns and heel traction, rode round and round the circle in front of the middle school.
When the Hill Street riders had returned, most everyone retreated to escape the rain and celebrate in the McAlister gym. Many participated in a substantial raffle and silent auction. The Dean’s List, an enjoyable six-piece band, was on stage adding to the fun as many riders and friends kept a pair of volunteer face-painters busy. The free pizza table was popular, with other snacks as well, and soon a supply of ice cream cups appeared.
When the book-keepers had done their job, the giant cardboard check was brought out. But first, Chris and Denise Nikolis, who have organized the event since its Suffield inception in 2012, displayed a large quilt decorated with Kids Ride emblems and designs. For several years, Chris’s mother has been making similar quilts to be auctioned off or donated to a deserving individual or family, as was done this year.
Then the impressive total was announced: $52,541! Chris thanked all the riders and donors and also credited the many sponsors who make this event possible, especially the First National Bank of Suffield, the principal sponsor. Finally, he called forward a dozen kids to be honored as “Heavy Hitters,” raising over $250 each, and two “Break-away” participants, with over $750. After that it was time for photos.
The PMC Kids Ride in Suffield is still the only one in Connecticut, though there are many in New England and elsewhere. It’s an adjunct to the Pan-Mass Challenge, a well-established two-day, 190-mile bike ride each summer from various starting points, finishing at Provincetown, Mass., on the tip of Cape Cod. For the full Challenge, Chris Nikolis is one of the crew of stalwarts who gather on the Suffield Green each year to start their ride on Friday, instead of Saturday, adding an extra 47 miles and another day.