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Katelynn's Ride continues fight against childhood cancer

Date: 5/19/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WEST SPRINGFIELD -- Domenic Battista of West Springfield needed to do something, anything, to help doctors find a cure for the disease that took his daughter's life in 1997.

His small fundraiser -- Katelynn's Ride, in honor of his 11-year-old daughter who died of leukemia -- which began with close friends nine years ago has turned into a major event to benefit the Jimmy Fund and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Katelynn's Ride has raised over $1 million to date, and has set a goal of $175,000 for this year's bike-a-thon on June 7.

"The Jimmy Fund is a professional organization that is second to none," Battista said in an interview with Reminder Publications. "You can rest assured that you'll be getting the best treatment possible [at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where Katelynn was treated]."

He added that despite the economy, bikers and donors came out in record numbers last year. Battista said he's hoping for a similar turnout this year.

"Katelynn was this remarkable force," Megan Barrows, Katelynn's friend, said. "She was caring, brave, and no matter what, she always looked on the bright side.

"When she passed away, my world came crashing down," she continued. "At 11-years-old, I really couldn't understand why something this terrible could happen to anyone, especially to Katelynn.

"After many years of struggling to understand, I finally found peace in Katelynn's passing and part of that peace is participating in Katelynn's Ride," Barrows said. "It is the perfect opportunity to honor Katelynn, raise money for a cure and share my memories of Katelynn. Her legacy will always live on."

Katelynn's Ride is part of the larger Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC), an annual bike-a-thon that has raised over $240 million for Dana-Farber since 1980. Proceeds from Katelynn's Ride are added to the PMC total, which raised approximately $35 million last year.

Jackie Herskovitz, publicist for the PMC, noted that monies raised from Katelynn's Ride are only used to fund research at Dana-Farber; PMC funds are "unrestricted" and can be used for "patient care or expenses."

"Ultimately, the PMC is known as 'the most successful athletic fundraising even in the country' because it raises and contributes more money to charity than any other [fundraiser]," she added.

Battista said he will lead bikers traversing the 10, 25, 50 and 100-mile courses to the first rest stop at Katelynn's Ride before continuing on with his family on the 10-mile course.

Katelynn's Ride will take place on June 7, beginning at Hampshire College in Amherst, followed by a post-ride celebration including a barbeque and live entertainment and activities.

All riders age 18 and older must raise at least $300 to participate; cyclists age 17 and younger are required to raise a minimum of $100. There is an additional $25 registration fee.

For more information or to register for Katelynn's Ride, visit