When Avon resident Allyson Caputo began treatments for ovarian cancer six years ago, she and her husband Andy decided to organize an event that inspired others to not only support the fight against cancer but also to challenge people to become more active.
In 2008 they began the Everyone Ride/Run Against Cancer Everyday event, or ERRACE, to raise money for the fight against cancer.
"My wife and I really wanted to do something to help the organizations that have helped us along the way," Andy Caputo said.
Andy, an avid cyclist, and Allyson, an active runner, became even more involved in their activities of choice after Allyson's diagnosis. Allyson began training for marathons and 50K running events. Andy began training for multi-day endurance mountain biking events.
"These activities became a big focus for us during her treatments," Andy said. "She was dealt a very difficult cancer to deal with. By the sheer statistics, the odds have been against her, but she's been a tremendous fighter."
After six years and 100 chemotherapy treatments, Allyson believes firmly that her continued drive to push herself physically has allowed her to continue her battle against cancer. Allyson has never had to stop her treatments due to low blood counts or physical exhaustion.
"It pushed both of us to do things we never thought we could do before," Andy said.
Allyson has since competed in two 50 km running events in Vermont and one in Wyoming, in addition to many other events in between. The 49-year-old mother of two boys, Vincent, 14, and A.J., 12, even competed in one 50 km event after severely injuring her ankle.
Andy, an orthopedic surgeon, told her it was one of the worst sprains he's seen.
"She asked if it could get any worse if she competed," Andy said. He told her it might not get worse, but it certainly wouldn't get any better.
"She told me 'If it's not going to get worse, then it's just pain," Andy said. And with that, she decided to compete and finish her second 50 km race.
When Allyson first began training and competing in many challenging events, the couple began to see how her determination was affecting those around them.
"In the process, we found that people around us wanted to get involved," Andy said.
ERRACE, which will be held on July 14, will start and finish at the Helen and Harry Gray Cancer Center in Avon, offers 100, 50, 25, and 20 mile rides and a 5 km run/walk event.
Over the past three years the event has been held, the couple has seen a tremendous amount of support from participants and local businesses alike.
"People come from far and wide because this event is something that touches everyone," Simsbury resident Stacy Roos said. Roos is the sponsorship coordinator for ERRACE.
"The businesses here have just been a wonderful community," Roos said. "They want to support the event in any way they can."
Last year, the event drew over 600 participants and approximately 1,000 spectators. This year the event's coordinators hope to raise $50,000 and have already reached almost $27,000, according to the ERRACE website.
Allyson continues her fight against ovarian cancer, and after a recent surgery will not be able to participate in this year's event. As history has shown, it won't be long before she's back in action.
The couple will continue to hold the event annually not only to benefit the organizations that have helped them in their struggle but also to continue to inspire others to maintain active lifestyles.
"Keep your body in the best shape possible, because you never know what's going to happen," Andy said.
For more information or to register for the event, visit the ERRACE website.