Prospect father, daughter duo to ride like angels

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John and Samantha Strell of Prospect are holding a spinning fundraiser to raise money for the Angel Charitable Trust’s AngelRide in May. -CONTRIBUTED

PROSPECT — Sometimes angels don’t fly; they ride bikes.

This will be the ninth year that the nonprofit organization Angel Charitable Trust hosts the AngelRide and the fifth year John Strell of Prospect has rode in it.

The AngelRide is a two-day, 135 mile bike ride that raises money for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. The Hole in the Wall Gang was founded in 1988 by Paul Newman. It provides free camping sessions to children and their families coping with serious illnesses along with a year-round outreach program to hospitals and clinics throughout the Northeast. All of the money raised by the riders goes to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp’s Hospital Outreach Program.

John was convinced by a friend that he should try the ride and, after the first year, he fell in love with the ride, his wife Tina explained. He was able to raise money for the hospital outreach program and ride through rural Connecticut areas.

John also experienced the importance of the hospital outreach program first hand when his daughter Samantha was hospitalized for asthma.

Tina said Samantha was only in the hospital a short amount of time, but met children who were there for longer stays. She was able to see how important the hospital outreach program was to the children stuck in the hospital and how much it meant to them to have visitors.

When Samantha turned 7, which is the youngest age allowed to ride, she participated in the AngelRide, Tina explained. When she finished her first ride, she asked her father if they could do it again.

Now 8 years old, Samantha is training with her dad in preparation for this year’s Young AngelRide.

They ride together along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, training to go the six miles that Samantha will have to pedal during the race, Tina said. Since the trail is very flat, Samantha also trains on the hills around her house.

Biking the distance is only half of what is expected of the riders, however. Everyone who signs up to ride is expected to raise a certain amount of money. Since John is riding the full 135 miles, he needs to raise at least $1,000. Samantha is trying to raise at least $100 for her Young AngelRide.

To help raise the funds, the Strells will host a spinning fundraiser on May 19 at Physique Plus in Cheshire. Anyone interested may sign up to spin or sponsor a spinner at $20.

John and Samantha are also planning to fundraise outside of Oliver’s Market and Dunkin’ Donuts in Prospect. Tina explained they will take turns riding a stationary bike outside the store in hopes of collecting donations.

Tina said John and Samantha have both visited the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp as guests before, when he was invited to the camp for being one of the top fundraisers. The ticket allowed him to bring a guest, so he brought his daughter.

Both at the camp and at the hospital, Samantha was able to see what the money she was raising went towards.

“Since it is kid related, she really gets it,” Tina said.

For more information on the spinning fundraiser, to sign up or to sponsor a spinner contact Tina Strell at (203) 758-0465 or momstrell@aol.com.

The AngelRide will take place on May 26 and 27. For more information, visit www.angelride.org.