NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - Friends of Karen has a simple goal. It provides help to families who are dealing with a child's critical illness. Specially trained counselors guide people through the many stresses that crop up, including the emotional stability of all family members and financial support beyond what is covered by insurance. Sometimes basic living expenses must be provided for parents who cannot work because of a child's illness. Sometimes it involves the cost of travel to hospitals. Sometimes people need legal counseling. These are just some of the roles that Friends of Karen plays.
Remarkably, the organization's financials show that nearly 85% of every dollar raised goes directly to supporting families in need.
The Friends of Karen 7th Annual Journey of the Heart Bike Tour will be en route this weekend. The weather promises to be glorious. The tour begins in Kent, CT and ranges over the beautiful byways of southern New England, with stops in Lenox, MA, Lakeville, CT and Rhinebeck, NY. The round-trip journey is more than 125 miles.
Eighteen riders have enlisted this year. Each one commits to raising at least $2500. "Most come from Westchester, but a few come up from Long Island," explained Special Events Coordinator, Gwen Salmo. Somers residents Karen Merritt of the Allstate Merritt Agency and Vincent Liscio will be among the cyclists. Last year's riders raised $180,000. So far this year $130,000 has been pledged.
Salmo said, "It's really cool this year. For the first time one of the dads is riding. We helped his seven-year-old son, Jemar, who had leukemia. We invited him to come and speak at our kickoff dinner, and he was so impressed he said, 'I want to do this with you guys. I'm going to ride with you. I just have to get a bike.'" So a local cyclist brought around a bike, "Julio's Bike Shop in Chappaqua gave it a tune-up and Danny's Cycles donated riding shorts," Salmo added.
"I train every weekend," said the dad, "and now I'm just waiting for that bike ride."
It is never too late to make a donation to Friends of Karen.
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