Lauri Strauss and Laura Ann Wilgosz-Intintoli died of cancer 25 years apart, but both were in the hearts and minds of more than 100 bike riders Sunday morning as they took to the streets to raise money for cancer research.
The bike tour was organized by the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation, which has been raising money for cancer research since 1987. The Ride for Research tour offered two routes – either 6.8 or 4.3 miles – through the Port Washington area.
The goal: raise money for research and awareness of blood cancers.
“It is expensive [for doctors] to stay in research, so this is our way to help,” said Evelyn Strauss, Lauri Strauss' mother and president of the foundation. “We give over $3 million in grants to doctors who are doing innovative things.”
To make the bike tour a reality, the foundation enlisted help from those in the community, including Marvin Rostolder, who rode 1,500 miles from Vancouver to San Francisco last year. They also partnered with Ralph Intintoli, owner of Port Washington Bicycles, who lost his wife, Laura Ann Wilgosz-Intintoli, to cancer in 2009.
Intintoli went to high school with Lauri Strauss and became involved in fundraising for cancer research. His wife was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2001. As the owner of the local bicycle shop, he knew teaming up with the Strauss family for the Ride for Research was the perfect marriage of causes.
“This is more personal,” he said, adding it was something he knew his wife would have enjoyed. “She loved doing things like this; she was an organizational guru. For her to be involved in something like this would have been her cup of tea.”
Riders of all ages came out, some just to enjoy a nice bike ride through the area, others to remember loved ones they, too, have lost.
“My dad died of cancer, so raising money and awareness is something I like to do,” said Anna Frangoulis, who brought along her friends, sons and their friends for the ride.
Intintoli said fundraising events such as this one are always bittersweet for those who have lost loved one to the disease, but it can be comforting knowing everyone has a common goal.
“We all want this disease, no matter what, to end,” he said.
Pictured: Anna Frangoulis, center, rides in the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation's Ride for Research Bike Tour on Sunday, with friends and family in memory of her dad, who died of cancer. (May 6, 2012)