If you’ve been on Gifford’s Last Mile social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube) over the last year, then you’ve probably come across video stories and testimonials from three active participants in the 2021 Last Mile Event; Chip Milnor, Bob Sparadeo and Liz Longworth. All three have seen firsthand what the funds from the Last Mile can do for someone riding along life’s last mile. Each was so moved by their personal experiences, that they made it their mission to tell others about the importance of this event. By telling their stories we hope, you too, will be inspired to help us support end-of-life care patients and their families.
Bob Sparadeo lost his mother about a year ago after suffering a stroke. Palma “Polly” (Iannuccilli) Sparadeo passed away peacefully in one of Gifford’s Garden Rooms with Bob and his son by her side. Gifford’s Garden Rooms are special hospital suites with a peaceful atmosphere, garden access and additional space for loved ones.
Throughout the hours and days in that room, Bob couldn’t believe the high level of professionalism and compassion from the Gifford staff, always asking, “What can we do for you?” It was this experience that now compels Bob to spread the word about the Last Mile Event and help in funding efforts. Just a couple of weeks after losing his mom, Bob participated in the Last Mile’s gravel bicycle ride. He also brought along treats for the participants, Gramma Polly’s Meatball Sliders. It was Bob’s way to pay tribute to his mom by showing her love of cooking and how she enjoyed sharing her food with the community.
This year’s bicycle ride takes place on Saturday morning, August 13 at the Randolph Rec. Field (30 Park St., Randolph). You can choose to ride either on a road or gravel route. You can also choose your distance of 11 or 24 miles. Registration starts at 8:00 am and the staggered starts begin an hour later. It’s $25 per person to participate and you can register by clicking here.
Liz Longworth’s connection to the Last Mile dates back to her high school years. That’s when Liz met Naomi Drown. Liz rode horses as a little girl, but grew out of it during her time in middle school. It was Naomi who encouraged Liz to, “get back on the horse.” Naomi shared her horses with Liz and they built a strong friendship. Sadly, Naomi passed away from Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare cancer, in 2008 shortly after her 25th birthday. Naomi received end-of-life care at Gifford before passing away at her home. Throughout her final weeks, Naomi was surrounded and comforted by her family. It was witnessing the support Naomi and her family received from Gifford that motivated Liz to get involved in the Last Mile. Funds from the Last Mile can be used for meals, travel accommodations, coordinating special events, transportation to appointments, in-home care, funeral expenses or just one final wish being fulfilled.
It’s because of Naomi that Liz rekindled her passion for horses and led her to become a farrier. Many of the people that have been donating to Liz over the years either have horses or care for them. As Liz says, “It’s a community coming together to help and that’s a beautiful thing.”
Liz does take part in the motorcycle ride with her father, but it’s her running mileage over the last two years that hasn’t been matched. Liz ran 15 hours for the 2020 Last Mile Home Edition event. Last year, for the 16th annual Last Mile, Liz ran 16 hours. She was one of the top fundraisers in 2021, bringing in $5,745.
You don’t have to run as far or as long as Liz did to help support end-of-life care patients and their families. This year’s Last Mile 5k is Friday, August 19th at Gifford in Randolph. There are also 1- and 2-mile walking routes. Registration starts at 4:30 pm with the walkers and runners leaving at 6 pm. It’s $25 per person to participate and you can register by clicking here
Virtual Walking, Running and Riding are still encouraged if you can’t make it here on any of the event days. Just register here and participate anytime before August 20.
Chips Auto and Tire has been a staple in Randolph for years. Owner Chip Milnor has also been an active participant and fundraiser for the Last Mile. His involvement began more than a decade ago when the wife of a customer ended up in one of Gifford’s Garden Rooms. Chip couldn’t help but take notice of how well his customer and family were treated by the Gifford team, and the critical role funds from the Last Mile play in supporting patients and their families. In the years that followed, through his Last Mile sponsors, Chip has heard all kinds of stories that he says, “have blown me away.” It’s those stories that give him the strength to keep going.
The 80-mile motorcycle ride Chip participates in, brings an entire community together. Motorcyclists at one time may have had, “a bad rap,” but many pride themselves on their charitable work, whether it’s a toy run or an event supporting palliative care. Chip has been riding motorcycles for years and says he’s met some of the nicest people in that community. Chip Milnor was the top fundraiser in 2021, raising $15,791 and he’ll be back at it again in 2022, because as he says, “I’m hooked. It’s a part of me now.”
The Last Mile motorcycle ride closes out this year’s three-day event on Saturday, August 20. Registration starts at 8:30 am at Gifford Park in Randolph and the bikes leave Gifford at 10 am. The cost is $50 per person or $75 for two riders on one motorcycle. Not only will there be a barbeque following the ride, but prizes will also be raffled off. You could win either $2,500, $1,500 or $1,000 in the 50/50 raffle. Prizes also include a homemade queen-size quilt crafted by 2 retired Gifford nurses. Click here to get your tickets.
We would be honored if you joined us for the 17th annual Last Mile on August 13, 19 and 20. If you register before July 27, you will receive a free 2022 Last Mile t-shirt. Head to lastmileride.com for more information including registration and donation forms along with route maps and frequently asked questions.