By Lindsay Carey
Rand Mange of Southington will ride in the Closer to Free bike ride, which raises money for the Yale Smilow Cancer Center.
This September, Mange, who is a firefighter in Guilford, is riding amongst thousands with team Carl’s Crusaders for the second time.
Carl’s Crusaders was formed for Carl Hubbard, a Guilford volunteer firefighter, who was diagnosed and battled rare cancer choriocarcinoma for seven months.
At just 40 years old, Hubbard passed away two years ago leaving his wife Stacey and ten-year-old son Cameron. Hubbard was a firefighter of 20 years.
“Our team is made of firemen, family members, friends and others whose lives were touched by Carl,” said Mange.
Stacey Hubbard, Carl’s wife, said she is incredibly grateful for the brotherhood that is the Guilford Fire Department, because they have shown tremendous support.
“The Yale Smilow Center is where my husband received treatment,” she said. “For 115 days. They gave me seven more months with my husband. If we can help another person not have to lose their loved one or find a cure for cancer through this research, I want to do it.”
She also said that Carl’s legacy is to live life and help other people, so that’s what she’s trying to do. She has pledged to ride 25 miles for the event.
Carl’s Crusaders is made up of 78 members according to the Closer to Free website and thus far they have raised $24,652 total.
Mange said Hubbard’s battle with cancer is what keeps him going in the everyday battle of training for the 100 miles he has committed to ride for Closer to Free.
“As I’m struggling to get through those first 50 or 60 miles, I just keep thinking to myself, I peddle for those who can’t and I have no excuse not to finish,” said Mange, who has been riding for almost seven years. “I feel better than I did last year, so there’s no reason why anything should stop me this year.”
Mange said he trains with other firefighter in Guilford when he can and also rides around Southington with a couple of other riders he met through physical therapy.
According to Mange, there is a sense of camaraderie in group rides.
“We push each other,” said the firefighter. “We try to teach each other how to be more efficient when we’re riding and maintain the average speed that we’re looking for so we can get to that hundred miles,”
He typically rides between 20 to 60 miles during training, depending on his schedule.
Mange set his goal is to raise $1,000, because he made over $1000 last year. However, with only a month before the ride, Mange has only raised $436.
“I don’t really like asking people, I just hope people will give,” said Mange, who found last year’s ride very fulfilling. “What I love about this ride is that 100 percent of the money raised, and not after expenses, goes directly to Smilow, because there are so many great organizations that donate their time.”
By Lindsay Carey