MIDDLETOWN – She cycled more than 200 miles, burned more than 3200 calories and averaged speeds between 7 and 14 miles an hour during her 24 hour journey. But best of all, Andrea Verdone Gorsegner, with the support of hundreds of onlookers and the constant support of daughter Hannah, raised more than $70,000 for Infinite Love for Kids, a none-profit agency she founded to help raise funds for cancer research and help families.
The Gorsegners, Andrea and her husband Dan, have been heavily involved in raising awareness and research funding for cancer since their daughter Natalie, now a healthy, charming 11 year old, was diagnosed when she was three years old as high risk with ALL, Acute lymphocytic leukemia, meaning the disease progresses rapidly and could be fatal within a few months without immediate treatment. The disease starts in bone marrow where new blood cells are made and can invade the blood fairly quickly and spread to other parts of the body as well.
The Gorsegners are a close knit family and took immediate steps to help resolve all the other issues that accompany such a diagnosis. Andrea left her position in publishing as a photo editor to be at home 24 hours, the family moved from Rutherford to Middletown, and once they had all Natalie’s treatments and schedules under control, continued to do more research to see how they could help others whose children were diagnosed and raise funds for continuing research.
That was the start of Infinite Love for Kids, which has since grown to a 501 3 c non-profit organization with Andrea at the helm, and no one taking any compensation, with all funds raised going directly for research and helping families with children diagnosed with cancer. As a result Infinite Love has raised more $1.2 million for research and has distributed funds to leading research centers throughout the country, including Sloan Kettering in New York and CHOPS in Philadelphia.
But even that wasn’t enough for Andrea, Dan and their daughters. Through the years, Andrea has led numerous specific fund raisers, including two major events that raised $300,000, events that could not be held this year because of the Covid-19 epidemic. To try and compensate for that loss, she decided on taking on something unique for herself, a 24 hour Peloton bike ride, urging other cyclists two join in and contribute to Infinite Love. Her 24 hour Peleton ride lasts weekend was the First Annual Spin for Kids. More than 200 othe cyclists signed on to contribute once Andrea made known her Spin for Kids project.
“I was amazed, but not surprised, by Andrea’s ability to complete her 24-hour Peloton ride for kids with cancer,” said Mayor Tony Perry. “The work that she does for Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer, as well as her team, is a testament to the strength, commitment and compassion they bring to struggling families.”
“The entire Middletown community roots for this organization and I was so happy to hear that they raised over $60,000,” said Perry. “The money goes directly to fund pediatric cancer research and to assist families in need who are fighting this battle.”
Peloton is a high end indoor bike equipped with Wi-Fi, a touchscreen laptop and the ability for a cyclist to follow live or on order classes and compete or join with other riders from around the world. Andrea describes Peloton riders as “a family onto themselves, everyone is so nice, helpful and generous to each other,” so she felt strongly that by sponsoring a 24 ride for cancer she could raise a few thousand dollars. She already had the support, cooperation and donations from friends and neighbors from New Jersey to Connecticut and all offered to help. Daughter Hannah was eager to be by her mom’s side throughout the night to give her food or beverages, as well as moral support, friend Rachael Kanacka, whose daughters are friends of Hannah and Natalie, became the computer geek who stayed glued to the community through her computer, following the Facebook page for Infinite Love for Kids with Cancer to keep all updated of the donations coming in and to be sure Andrea was able to reach out to those who wanted to be part of the 24 hour episode.
PHOTO: The Gorsegner Family, Andrea, Natalie, Hannah, and Dan
At the end of the event, with donations still pouring in, Andrea’s ride, with Hannah at her side, raised more than $70,000.
Looking back on the adventure after a couple of hours sleep, Andrea continues to be awed and grateful to Peloton riders and all the others who made the event so successful, as she nursed sore knees with rest and ice packs. She said she took about five bathroom breaks during the 24 hours, which began at 9 Saturday morning, with Hannah holding up signs to keep the audience aware she’d be gone for five minutes or less. She said she only nibbled on snacks including chips and chicken pieces and was surprised she was not hungry for more. The most difficult time was about 18 hours into the 24 hours, about 2 a.m., when she started feeling weary but was uplifted by Peloton riders still along for the ride or dropping in for parts of the ride. Feeling just a little bit achy, Andrea said even the surgery on her foot about a year ago was only slight pain when measured against the success of the ride.
Because of such support and enthusiasm, there will be another major event on June 13 this year, with the Gorsegners urging supporters to save the date and look for further information and registration closer to June. That event will the Tutu 5K, a family run and walk which has already been done successfully in Connecticut and is an opportunity for families to enjoy a recreational event together while raising funds for cancer research.
“While we have given money for research, we also have aided individual families who struggle with everything from heating bills to mortgage payments in addition to facing the ordeals of fighting cancer,” Andrea said.
Persons wishing to make donations can visit Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer or see the Facebook page at Infinite Love for kids fighting cancer.