EASTON, Conn. Lisa Sheehan goes the extra mile in support of the Connecticut Challenge. Not in the literal sense of the annual bike ride, but in the Easton womans involvement as a volunteer to provide meditation classes for cancer survivors.
Sheehan, along with her husband Dave and their three children, will ride in the event for the third straight year on July 28. They are members of one of the challenges largest teams, Ride Sally Ride . It includes 57 riders and has raised nearly $100,000 each of the last two years. The group is named after Sally Richards, a childhood friend of Sheehans who died of cancer in 2010.
What I love about the ride is its so beautiful and relaxing, said Sheehan, who has ridden 10 miles and has had family members go as far as 25. The challenge offers distances up to 100 miles. Were not big riders, but we love to do it. It has become like our family service project.
After meeting ride founder Jeffrey Keith a few years ago, she offered to volunteer by leading meditation classes. The impact of the courses has been profound, both for the cancer patients and for Sheehan.
We have some who are still in treatment, some who are done, Sheehan said. Its inspiring. Its neat to see the connection that these women have made with each other. Ive had people say that doing meditation with other survivors, knowing they understand the battles and the challenges, is rewarding. Theyve been there, and they get it. People who havent been through cancer just dont get that. Im blessed that Im able to participate in that way.
The Connecticut Challenge, which provides free programs to assist cancer survivors, plans to open a survivorship center in Fairfield this month. Sheehans mediation classes will move there. We work on relaxation through mindfulness, she said. We focus on paying attention to your body and breathing. You can take those techniques and apply it wherever you are. You can center yourself whatever your circumstances.
Besides the connection with the survivors, Sheehans work with the challenge has also helped her to cope with the loss of her friend. Its surprising, she said. It helps me deal with the grief and the loss. The only thing that helps me is trying to do something about it. Its not just talking about it. Im lucky to get so much out of it. I cant think of a better way to spend my time.
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