By ANDREA VanVALKENBURG
---- — PLATTSBURGH — More than 300 riders are hitting the road Saturday to raise money for local children affected by cancer.
It’s the 13th year the Jeff Wyand Miracle Ride will bring the area’s motorcycle community together to raise funds for Pediatric Oncology at Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care.
The annual event has raised more than $450,000 for the specialized pediatric unit, with all proceeds going directly to help kids and families affected by childhood cancer.
The ride, first called Biking for Miracles, began in 1999 to support Jeff Wyand as he battled medulloblastoma, a common childhood cancer that affects the central nervous system.
His parents, Tom and Diane Wyand, of Plattsburgh began the event to support their son and other children from across the region as Jeff underwent treatment at the Vermont hospital.
The ride continued for years after Jeff’s health improved, but complications from the tumor eventually resurfaced and claimed the teen’s life in 2006, just months after his high-school graduation.
TO HELP OTHER KIDS
In honor of their son, the Wyands renamed the event the Jeff Wyand Miracle Ride.
“He’s always with us and in our hearts, so now we do this to help other families,” Tom said this week as he helped finalize plans for the event.
“There’s a lot of other families going through what we went through, and it’s our way of helping them out and giving back.”
Dozens of kids from across the tri-county region are treated at the Vermont hospital each year, and Wyand said “100 percent” of the money raised this weekend will go toward their care and stays at the hospital.
“We all just want to help other kids in need.”
Wyand expected more than 300 riders to take part in the ride, held for the first time on a Saturday rather than Sunday.
The ride begins and ends at American Legion Post 1619 on Rand Hill Road in Morrisonville.
Registration was set for 9 a.m. with the ride leaving at 11 a.m.
The afternoon events will kick off around 1 p.m. when bikers return to enjoy live music from Wing Men, a horseshoe tournament, $10 chicken barbecue and a Chinese and live auction.
Organizers are also raffling off a 1997 XLH 883 Harley Davidson.
The event is open to the public, and Wyand encouraged everyone to get out and see the motorcycles, enjoy the festivities and support the good cause.
He applauded riders, the community and Post 1619 for their continued support of Jeff’s ride and area children and families battling cancer diagnoses.
“It’s amazing what they do every year.”
Learn more at: http://www.jeffwyandride.org.