Saturday: Second annual Bike for Hope

When our son Carlo Minasi became ill in Rome, Italy, during his college junior year abroad, it was an unexpected blow.

Carlo was a student at the University of Connecticut and had always been athletic, playing soccer and basketball. He loved to drive his Subaru WRX and was licensed to drive a shuttle bus at college.

My kid was the healthiest kid in town. He never missed a day of school. He worked hard and he played hard.

After falling ill in Rome, Carlo was airlifted back to the United States and was diagnosed with a form of cancer called osteosarcoma, which was localized in the sacrum, the bone at the base of the spine.

Under the care of Dr. Robert Dawe, of Orthopaedic Specialty Group PC in Fairfield, his sacrum was removed during a grueling two-day surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

We lived in the hospital for three months before Carlo was eventually transferred to Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford. They’re amazing there.

He was using a wheelchair, and with help from physical therapists he was getting better and stronger. The surgery compromised his ability to walk, and he needed to learn how to walk again. He was using a walker.

Under the mentorship of Todd Johnson of the Dana Reeves Foundation, Carlo joined Connecticut Spokebenders, a wheelchair-basketball team.

But his recovery was short-lived, and despite 14 months of chemotherapy treatments, the cancer reappeared in the pleural cavity.

We still had hope, but it didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to. Carlo died in August 2013 at age 22.

Bike ride

The most important thing in my life right now is honoring my son, and the second annual Bike for Hope will take place in Carlo’s memory on Saturday, May 23 in Shelton.

Moving with Hope is a Shelton-based nonprofit organization that provides exercise therapy grants and adaptive equipment for survivors of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. It helps people rebuild their lives.

Services include physical therapy, socialization and locating appropriate living facilities. Before such help was available, people were shut-ins, and medical insurance doesn’t cover all the costs of rehabilitation.

Moving with Hope helps them get a quality of life. My son had a lot of friends, but even with that, it can be very isolating.

Bike for Hope runs from 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and occurs in waves starting at the corner of Howe Avenue and Cornell Street.

There’s a 50-mile, a 25-mile, and a 10-mile ride, as well as a Memorial Walk.

Rides for hand cyclists are being planned for 5, 10, 15, and 30 miles.

Bike riders may join Team Carlo, headed up by Carlo’s father, Giuliano Minasi. You can join another team or form a team.

Registration is at ctbikeforhope.org and riders will find personal donation pages at the website.

The top fund-raiser will receive a $1,300 Cannondale CAAD Bike donated by Class Cycles in Southbury.

For each $35 gift to Moving with Hope, donors receive a Carlo T-shirt designed by Carlo’s friends and family. T-shirts may be ordered at dbtr.org/ride; ctbikeforhope.org.

I hope the event continues every year and am looking forward to May 23.

I’m hoping a lot of people turn out. I’d love to see everyone wearing a Carlo T- shirt. It is one of the few ways I can actually see people remembering and loving him.

To donate to Moving with Hope, go to dbtr.org; ctbikeforhope.org.

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