NEW CANAAN, Conn. – New Canaan’s John Murphy rides Metro-North every day. His picture from last year’s Connecticut Challenge is in an advertisement for this year’s ride: It shows him holding a bike above his head with the name of a cancer survivor.
“I get phone calls all the time,’’ said Murphy, who has been involved in the annual event to support programs for cancer survivors for years. “They ask, ‘Hey Murph, is that you?’ I think they’re a little surprised when I tell them it is me.”
For the past five years, Murphy has co-led a team of New Canaan and Darien riders on the Challenge’s 100-mile circuit. This year, he will ride 190 miles over two days – ride organizers added a second day this year – and he has organized a team of exclusively New Canaan riders.
The other local riders and volunteers include Christopher Downer, Arnold Karp, Robert LaBanca, James Liang, Scott Logie, Richard Shear, John Straus and Dennis Tracey; and Richard, Deborah, Ryan and Amanda Brennan. The team is called Riders For Survivors, and Murphy’s fundraising page can be accessed online.
“I see what works pretty well these days in fundraising, and that’s if one team gets behind somebody, it really seems to resonate,’’ Murphy said. “That’s the approach I wanted to take, and said let’s ride for the people we know. Everybody knows somebody with cancer.”
He finds particular pleasure in supporting the CT Challenge, which will be held July 26 to 27. The ride begins at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport.
“I don’t ride for just one person … I ride for so many people, family and friends, who have been touched by cancer,’’ Murphy said. “I have been involved with many other cancer-related charity events, but I’ve found that the CT Challenge is such an incredible organization that is so focused on providing direct support/resources for survivors. This is not some national organization where you don’t know where your donations go. The CT Challenge is putting donations to work in programs that you can see and touch.”
One of Murphy’s more memorable Challenge rides occurred last year. Thunderstorms late in the day rolled through and made biking dangerous.
“We were fine except for the last 15 miles or so,’’ he said. “It was coming down in buckets. We just kept riding and tried to finish as fast as we could. The water was several inches deep on the road!"
Murphy said the joy he discovers in the ride increases each year.
“Every year is different,’’ he said. “The enjoyment I get out of it grows with it. They have this event organized really well, and there are so many volunteers. It’s something I look forward to every year. It’s an amazing event.”