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Riding For A Cure: Local Mom Looks To A 100 Mile Ride In The Rockies And Rides For Uncle Jack

Linda Sweeney is on a journey to ride 100 miles for her Uncle Jack who just passed away of Lymphoma
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Linda Sweeney is on a journey to ride 100 miles for her Uncle Jack who just passed away of Lymphoma

Tuesday January 8, 2013

By Cookie Steponaitis

    Linda Sweeney always knew she had an ace up her sleeve and in her corner since she was a little girl was her Uncle Jack. While both had families of their own and were surrounded by love from all sides, there was a special bond between the two of them which kept them close over the years. Uncle Jack pulled her aside on her wedding day and shared with Linda the simple words, “You are the most beautiful bride I have ever seen,” etching those words in her heart and giving her yet another special moment with Uncle Jack.

    Nine months ago her uncle, Jack Hurlbut was diagnosed with lymphoma and tragically lost his fight with the dreaded disease the Friday before Christmas.  The loss for Linda happened in the midst of a journey that she, Jack and his wife Sarah were sharing together. Linda had set a goal of riding on June 2, 2013 a 100 mile ‘century ride’ in the mountainous countryside of Lake Tahoe to be a part of one of America’s largest fundraisers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Jack and Sarah, between doctors, blood transfusions and battling the disease were strong supporters of Linda as she worked to raise $4500.00 for the ride and at the time of Jack’s passing Linda had reached the half way mark of her fundraising and training efforts.

    “This is so far out of my comfort zone,” shared Linda Sweeney. “While I am an avid bike rider, I have never taken on a challenge like this one and have been told that at the 70 mile mark of this ride, there is an eight mile climb. I started biking about a year ago and always biked alone. I rode to Williston and met my aunt Sarah there for lunch. We went over to Fletcher Allen and stayed with Uncle Jack while he was having a chemo and radiation treatment. It was then that I really understood the nature of the disease he was battling. During a 50 mile ride later that week I met up with people who told me about this Team in Training fundraiser and I knew it was a way I could help out. You feel so helpless when you watch a loved one face this disease and everyone wants to take action. This gave me a way to focus energy and love. Uncle Jack was so excited and was looking to come with me to Lake Tahoe to be at the finish line.”

    Linda is extremely grateful to Middlebury Fitness for sponsoring her with a free membership and uses the gym, spinning classes and works with the personal trainers to get her body in shape for the 100 mile ride in the Rocky Mountains. Participating at craft fairs and other fundraisers, she has been touched by the number of people and the personal stories she has heard about friends, siblings, spouses, grandparents and others who are fighting leukemia and/or lymphoma and looks forward to the ride with great enthusiasm. “They are hoping to raise close to a million dollars in that one event,” shared Linda. “And it is important to know that 78% of all the funds raised go straight to research and the needs of individual patients.”

    Upcoming fundraisers include a Texas Hold’em Poker Game at the Elks Club in St. Albans on February 24, 2012. Tickets are $50.00 each and the prizes are 1st $750.00, 2nd $500.00 and third $250.00. Also stay tuned for more details about a dance/concert featuring up and coming local country star Tim Brick and in the meantime Linda Sweeney can be reached at (802)349-8386 or through her page at http://pages.teamintraining.org/uny/ambbr13/lsweeneben . With more money still to raise and more training to complete, Linda and her aunt Sarah are looking for support and others impacted by the ravages of this disease. “We just hope,” concluded Linda, “that there will come a day when people can just do these rides for fun and personal fitness and that the research has found the cure. Uncle Jack said to me that he was excited about the event and supported anything that ‘helped prevent this from ever happening to someone else.’


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