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News Article

UTC Cyclists Raise Funds for Smilow Cancer Hospital

From left, United Technologies Team Strong cyclists Jackie Garofano, Betty Merker, and David Yerkes were among the 19 employees who took part in the Closer to Free Ride to benefit Smilow Cancer Hospital.
Betty Merker rode to honor her loved ones who have fought cancer.
Cyclist Jules Montojo prepares to head out on the 100-mile ride.
Over 1,000 cyclists participated in the 2015 Closer to Free Ride.
Closer to Free cyclists coasted along Connecticut’s shoreline.
 On a foggy September morning, 19 UTC employees were among the 1,200-plus bicyclists who participated in the 5th annual Closer to Free Ride to benefit Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. This year, United Technologies Team Strong exceeded its $10,000 fundraising goal by raising more than $14,000.

The team included employees from different UTC business units, with cyclists tackling 25-, 65- and 100-mile journeys along Connecticut roads.

Pratt & Whitney employee Betty Merker undertook the 25-mile ride to honor her loved ones who’ve faced cancer.

“I’ve known a lot of people affected by cancer, and I try to do all I can to support cancer research and treatment,” Merker said. “My mother lost her battle with cancer, and I am riding in memory of her and her siblings who’ve succumbed to this awful disease. Just like last year, their names will be placed on my helmet so they can ride with me.”

Last year, the Closer to Free ride raised $1.7 million to fund patient care at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven Hospital. UTC has had a longstanding commitment to supporting organizations that treat cancer and fund research.

“This ride would not be where it is today without the ongoing support of United Technologies and Team UTC,” said Jessica Scheps, Closer to Free Ride Coordinator. “We look forward to many more rides together and working collaboratively to increase the size of the team. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to UTC and to all their riders and volunteers.”

In 2008, UTC donated $1 million toward the construction of the Smilow Cancer Hospital, and this year the company donated more than $25,000 to support the ride. The money raised from the Closer to Free Ride will fund treatment and services for patients battling cancer, as well as clinical research.