Family rides for others' lives; Camp in a Suitcase program to benefit.
PAXTON - Edward Urbanowski didn't live long enough to benefit from the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp's outreach program for children with life-threatening illnesses. Edward died of acute lymphocytic leukemia at age 12, nearly four years ago, before the camp began the outreach program.
But Edward's family is now going the extra mile - literally - to make sure other terminally ill children will benefit from the program.
Next Saturday and Sunday, the family will participate in Angel Ride 2007, a two-day, 130-mile ride through Connecticut to raise money for the Camp in a Suitcase program. Through the program, the camp sends trained counselors to hospitals throughout New York and New England, to bring the experience of camping to hospitalized children. The counselors provide hands-on activities and entertainment, and work with hospital staff in other ways to make children's hospital stays a better experience.
All of the proceeds raised by the riders will go directly to Hole in the Wall, where Edward attended camp before his death in October 2003. The program, in Ashford, Conn., provides a summer camp-like experience for sick children and their siblings.
The ride is organized by the Angel Charitable Trust, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
For the Urbanowski family, helping children with cancer will always be a cause worth fighting for.
Edward was diagnosed with leukemia in June 1999. He underwent 4-1/2 years of chemotherapy and other treatments, according to his mother, Jean Urbanowski.
The camping outreach experience would have been good for her son, she said.
"Knowing how much it would have helped our own situation, we want to do this because we know that other kids can still benefit."
As a volunteer at the camp, she sees firsthand the good the experience does and said she feels a calling to help make a difference in sick children's lives.
Mrs. Urbanowski says she was inspired before Edward's death by a friend who lost a daughter to cancer yet remained a dedicated advocate and volunteer for organizations that support terminally ill children. It only seems right to continue working for the cause, she said, although she adds lightheartedly that the ride will not be as easy for her as it is for her children, "now that I'm over the hill."
Michael, Edward's brother, participated in the ride last year and raised $1,400. This year, with the entire family participating, the goal is to raise at least $4,000.
Michael said he sees the ride as a way to combine his passion for cycling with his desire to work for a cause that he believes worthy of his time and physical energy.
"The idea that you're making a difference makes it all worthwhile," he said.
Because his brother was a cancer victim, doing the ride is more than just a nice gesture, he said. It is personal, and it is something he can relate to firsthand.
Kathryn, Edward's 13-year-old sister, said she saw the good the Hole in the Wall Gang's camping program did for Edward and is now enthusiastic about the challenging bike ride.
His father, also named Edward, is also looking forward to the ride, which will benefit the UMass Memorial Medical Center - where Edward received his treatments.
The Angel Ride will begin at Yale Summer School of Music & Art in Norfolk, Conn., on May 26 and will finish the next day at the YMCA in Mystic, Conn. The riders will stay overnight at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, where they will be treated to a gourmet barbecue and a chance to meet some of the campers. Food and rest stops will be provided every 15 to 20 miles.
Donations to the ride may be made at the Web site, www.angelcharitabletrust.org by clicking on the donations link.
CUTLINE: The Urbanowskis - from left, Mike, 18; his mother, Jean; his sister, Kathryn, 13; and his father, Ed.
PHOTOG: T&G Staff/PAUL KAPTEYN
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|Title Annotation:||LOCAL NEWS|
|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||May 20, 2007|
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