Richards rides on for charities

For Jane Richards of Wilton, biking riding and fund-raising have gone hand in hand since she took to the sport in earnest 10 years ago.

Last year, she took part in the first annual Closer to Free bike ride to benefit Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, (her sister-in-law works at Yale-New Haven Hospital) and in the past has cycled to support causes such as Cystic Fibrosis and the American Lung Association.

“I enjoy riding in fund-raisers,” said the mother of four, who will again ride in the Closer to Free bike ride on Saturday, Sept. 8. This year, she plans to ride 65 miles, after going 25 miles last year.

“I felt I’d like to be challenged a little more this year,” she said. “Sixty-five miles is my goal.”

Last year, more than 250 riders of all ages, riding 25-, 65- or 100-mile routes, participated to help raise more than $400,000 for Smilow Cancer Hospital and create greater awareness for cancer care throughout Connecticut and southern New England.

Richards made her first charity cycling effort 10 years ago, when she took part in a three-day event in Maine (where she comes from originally) that took riders from the mountains to the sea, averaging 50 to 60 miles a day. She rode in the event, which benefited the American Lung Association, for six years.

Locally, Richards honed her biking by taking part in the annual Bloomin Metric bike ride through Fairfield County each May, which can be between 25 and 60 miles. She has also taken it abroad, cycling around Majorca, Spain, with her daughter.

“It’s something I enjoy. We try to keep it in the family,” she said. “It’s a great family activity.”

For more information on the upcoming event, or to make a donation at Richards’ page, go to