CALDWELL, NJ — In hopes of reaching their 2020 fundraising goal of $25,000 for Cycle for Survival (CFS), Caldwell Mayor John Kelley and his wife, Susan, hosted a fundraiser at Caldwell Flowerland in the week leading up to this year’s two-day indoor cycling event benefiting cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC)

Among the nearly 70 guests at Caldwell Flowerland on Saturday was North Caldwell resident Brett Goodman, whose sister, Jennifer Goodman Linn, and brother-in-law, David Linn, founded what is now one of the largest national fundraisers for cancer research. Although Jennifer lost her own battle with cancer in 2011, Brett and his wife, Emily Goldberg, have remained active with CFS along with his parents, Sandy and Len Goodman, and continue to bring others into the fold.

Through their friendship with Brett and his wife, Kelley and his wife became involved in CFS in 2014—only two years before Susan was diagnosed with advanced melanoma and underwent treatments at MSKCC.

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“We got involved through our friendship with Brett and Emily, but once Susan was diagnosed, it became even more personal,” said Kelley, who noted that Susan is currently showing no evidence of disease, but will undergo scans during the week following her ride on Feb. 1. “We understand why Jennifer Goodman Linn started the event. It allows for you to focus on something positive for your illness or a loved one's illness. It can be quite emotional at the cycle event because you are with so many others with similar motivations.”

Thanks to generous donations from friends and family, the Kelley family’s CFS team, “Caldwell Cares,” has already raised more than $16,000 leading up to this year’s ride.

“Susan and I are extremely grateful to family and friends who support us with donations and moral encouragement,” said Kelley. “They understand what we are going through. We can't really thank them enough.”

According to CFS, approximately 50 people currently battling cancer have been diagnosed with a rare cancer, such as brain, pancreatic, ovarian, thyroid and stomach cancers; leukemia and lymphoma; all pediatric cancers; and many others. With 100 percent of proceeds going toward cancer research at MSKCC, the event has raised more than $240 million over the last decade and raised $42 million in 2019 alone.

On Feb. 1 and Feb. 2, thousands of local rare cancer survivors, current cancer patients, caregivers and other community members will come together at the Summit Equinox to participate in a high-energy indoor-cycling fundraiser led by Equinox instructors. This is only one of dozens of CFS events being held across the country to raise money for research at MSKCC.

This year, Susan has been invited to ride Jennifer's bike, which Kelley said is a tradition for the annual event and that it is “an honor to be selected to ride” the founder’s bike.

“The Summit Equinox on the day of the ride is packed,” said Kelley. “It's loud and it's inspiring. As I stated before, it can also be emotional. There are opportunities for some to share their stories, and you can't help but be impacted by them.”

The mayor added that by raising money for CFS or by participating in the event, “you feel like you are truly contributing to a worthwhile cause.”

“The experience on the day of the event is like none other,” he said. “Give it a try and you may also find out about indoor cycling (spin) and fall in love with the sport.”

During Saturday night’s Team Caldwell Cares fundraiser, guests enjoyed food and wine from Calandra’s, Foodtown and La Famiglia as well as entertainment from several local groups.

To start off the evening, Councilwoman Fran Depalma-Iozzi, her husband, Lou, and her cousin, Frank Mazzeo, performed on keyboards, saxophone and drums. Performing a wide range of tunes that brought many to the dance floor late into the night was “The Unfinished Garage Band,” consisting of local residents Andrew and Teresa Ceccon; Teresa’s brother, Alfredo Perez; and drummer Jeff Goldstein from East Meadow, NY.

The evening also included a special appearance from James Caldwell High School’s barbershop quartet “The Billharmonics,” who dropped by to perform some classics. Guests commented that they were extremely impressed by the skill and professionalism among the members of “The Billharmonics,” which includes Vance Ceccon (lead), Jimmy Stevens (bass) Billy Slater (baritone) and Josh Baumgardt (tenor).

To contribute to the efforts of Team Caldwell Cares, contact Mayor Kelley at john@kelleycs.com.