This weekend’s 150-mile journey through Westchester, from Yonkers to Pound Ridge, isn’t Kevin Rooney’s first lengthy bike ride, but this one is definitely personal.
Rooney, 53, has so far raised more than $3,200 for the Cancer Research Institute’s inaugural New York Ride to Conquer Cancer, in which he is participating in honor of his parents, George and Mary, and his father-in-law, Clifford, all of whom died from cancer. The Mount Sinai resident is also riding in honor of his wife Lynn’s aunt and a close family friend who have battled the disease, which affects more than 1 million people in the United States every year, according to the American Cancer Society.
“I’m thinking about them and doing what I can do to make things better for them,” Rooney said.
The nonprofit Cancer Research Institute will use the funds for research, treatment and education.
An avid cycler for more than 20 years, the ride is far from Rooney’s first. But the father of two kids — Kathryn, 11, and Colin, 10 — has a busy schedule that leaves not as much time to race as he once did. In order to prepare for the June 6 to June 7 expedition, Rooney said he has been riding about three times a week. He typically gets up at 4 a.m. and works out for about an hour on a training bicycle, and tries to go out on weekends for a 50- to 60-mile ride.
“I just wanted to do something to the best of my athletic ability,” Rooney said.
He said cycling enables him to work through stress and acts as a meditation ritual.
Lynn Rooney said her husband’s motivation and commitment to the cause is “very encouraging,” and “something that I admire.”
Kevin Rooney was at first a little concerned about asking people to donate money, but as the donations started pouring in, he realized just how many people the disease affects.
“It touches people,” he said. “You find out how prevalent [the disease is].”
While his family won’t watch from the race sidelines, as Colin — an athlete like his dad — has a soccer match Rooney didn’t want him to miss, the father will have some guidance along the way. He said the pictures of those who inspired him are printed on his race number and will be tagging along for the ride.
For more information visit, www.ridetovictory.org.