October 2, 2017 02:21PM
By Pete Paguaga Record-Journal staff
CHESHIRE — Nearly 100 riders lined up on their motorcycles at Bartlem Park on Sunday, ready to start their journey to Quassy Amusement Park for the seventh annual Sunshine Kids Ride.
The ride, which raises money for kids who have cancer and their families, is run by the Sunshine Riders through the Sunshine Kids Foundation.
“As a cancer survivor, I was looking for a way to give back and I met a friend of mine had a sunshine kid pin on his lapel and I asked him about it and I said to myself that is what I want to do,” said Meriden resident Tom Raffle, of the Sunshine Riders said. “I want to give back to kids because as an adult I know what it is like to go through cancer but for children it must be ten times worse because they don’t understand. So it’s my way of showing them that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
A handful of kids came to Bartlem Park to check out the different kinds of motorcycles. Some even got on the bikes for the ride to the park, while others met the riders at the park.
Once at the park, the kids and their families got to enjoy all the park has to offer, all for free.
“What we do, what Sunshine Kids does is allow kids with cancer to go on trips, events, sporting events, we go to the city, we see Broadway shows, we do stuff with families, we do weeklong trips to Hawaii, Orlando, New York City, Washington, D.C.,” said Brooks Tomb, the eastern director of Sunshine Kids. “Teens without their parents so they get a chance to bond with each other and be with other kids who are going through the same thing. It’s phenomenal work and we can’t do it without events like this.”
The riders come from all over Connecticut, and the police officers who escorted the riders to Quassy came from different departments, such as Cheshire, Hamden and the state police.
Raffle said that this event is one of the his favorites. He went around high-fiving each kid and showing them the different kind of motorcycles they would be able to ride to the park.
“I’ve decided a long time ago there is a reason why I do this,” he said. “And it’s to help kids.”