By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer
The spirit of community seems to have touched friends of Eric Constantino, who has for the last three years, been the driving force behind the Karen Petty Memorial Double Century Bike Ride Against Pancreatic Cancer.
Petty lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in June 2010 and Constantino that year conducted the first ride, from the Petty family home in West Warwick to the family’s cabin in Thornton, N.H., a 200-mile ride, to raise money and awareness on the disease.
By the ride’s second year, in 2011, Constantino gained momentum and fellow riders. But earlier this month, Constantino was struck by a pickup truck while on a training ride and sustained several injuries that made his participation this year questionable.
In stepped Providence Business News production artist Chris Medeiros who, despite no long-distance bicycle training, plans to take part in the ride in Constantino’s place this weekend.
“I know how much this ride and finding a cure for this disease means to him so I instantly said to myself, ‘I need to find a bike,’ ” Medeiros said.
Caster’s Bicycle & Fitness www.bikeri.com, which has stores in Warwick and Providence, is sponsoring Medeiros’s ride. Medeiros plans to complete 100 miles of the journey and will be joined by Petty’s friends John Braica, Leo Constantino, and Bill Fontaine all riding 100 miles and Ed Hernaez and Greg Anderson, who is flying in from Sweden for the ride, who each will ride the entire 200 miles.
The ride has in its three years raised around $30,000 for pancreatic cancer research and awareness (to donate, click HERE). The riders are cheered along en route by other friends and family who post themselves at intervals along the way with signs and gather at the cabin when the ride is finished.
Constantino also began a fundraising walk through the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network after the first ride. The first Purple Stride Walk for Pancreatic Cancer was held in May 2011.
Medeiros said the event attracted three times as many walkers as originally expected. The Double Century website said fundraising efforts in memory of Karen Petty have reached $350,000 in the last three years.