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Thursday, July 9, 2020

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Ride2Survive makes big splash at Villa Roma

Nov 18, 2019

By Matt Shortall - co-editor

The Seventh Annual Ride2Survive Dinner and Dance at the Villa Roma Resort & Conference Center on Saturday night capped off a banner year in fundraising.
CALLICOON— Those who have health have hope, and those who have hope have everything. Those were the words of Scottish writer Thomas Caryle which Tom Ellison offered as a toast during the opening remarks of the 7th Annual Ride2Survive Dinner Dance at the Villa Roma Resort & Conference Center on Saturday night.
More than 400 people turned out to raise money for local residents battling cancer. Ride2Survive, Inc. raised more than $33,000 through its year-long sponsorship drive. They raised an additional $9,500 Saturday night through raffle tickets alone.

The money raised goes directly toward helping those patients and their families or caregivers with the costs of traveling to appointments and treatments.
Ride2Survive was founded by breast cancer survivors Glorianne Ellison and Kara Passante in 2013. Thanks to the efforts of this community-based volunteer organization, over $165,000 has been dispersed to over 900 community members.
Passante reminded the audience that anyone who volunteered or donated to Ride2Survive has helped someone fight cancer.
Glorianne Ellison, recalling a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that if you can't do great things then you can do small things in a great way said, “Sullivan County, you have done a small thing in a great way, and you made it look beautiful.”
Father and son team Rick and Chris Ellison served as the masters of ceremonies for the evening.
“We're here tonight because cancer is personal to all of us. In the case of our family, we are here to remember our loving sister, sister-in-law, cousin and aunt, Susan James, who lost her battle to cancer back in April. At every table in the room tonight, I'm sure you are here to honor and remember a loved one,” said Rick.
“Ride2Survive is an omnipresent reminder of what is so incredibly unique and inspiring about our strong, small town camaraderie,” said Chris.
The evenings first speaker was Dr. Varuni Kondagunta, an attending physician at Crystal Run Healthcare.
“We see the patients whom you help by being here tonight,” said Dr. Kondagunta. “I was told last week that Ride2Survive has helped 138 patients at Crystal Run Healthcare this year. That's an impressive number of patients and families that you've helped here today.”
The evening's second speaker was Janice Center co-owner, award-winning sports columnist and Sullivan West School Board member Ken Cohen.
“Virtually my whole life has been consumed and entrenched in scores, statistics and numbers, but nothing could prepare me for the numbers I received on March 26, 2018.”
Cohen was diagnosed with prostate cancer that March and went into surgery in May to have the cancer removed. What was thought to be a routine, one-hour procedure turned into anything but. Surgery removed the cancer, but complications meant a long road to recovery.
“With any cancer diagnosis you begin dealing with another numerical part of sports -- odds. Odds of survival, odds of successful surgery, odds of spreading and odds of recurrence. It seems you're at odds with the world.”
Cohen said he made it through with “his corner” of family and friends. “One thing battling cancer teaches you is that everything is relative.
“Cancer is an opponent just like in any competition. It can be beat with the right amount of teamwork, preparation and will.”
Despite the serious nature of the cause that brought people together that night, everyone carried a smile on their face and the atmosphere was celebratory.
Entertainment for the night included the Firefighter McPadden Pipes and Drums, performers from the Janice Center Dance Studio as well as a singing performance by Morris Germann accompanied by dancer Ashley Imperato.

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