Cycle for Sight, 2006

Amy Dunkin

We're constantly reminded that you don't have to be Bill and Melinda Gates to make a difference in this world.

This past Saturday, our family joined at least 50 other riders for the 11th annual Cycle for Sight charity bike ride. The event benefits the Volunteer Health Program, a Westchester (N.Y.)-based group that performs free eye surgeries in underserved countries. During their last mission in April, the small team of doctors, nurses, and health care workers did more than 1,000 operations in the Dominican Republic over 10 days. In January, they were in Jerusalem, working side by side with Israeli doctors primarily to help Palestinian patients.

The 25-mile roundtrip route starts in Pelham in southern Westchester and quickly moves across the NYC border into the far eastern reaches of the Bronx, proceeding through a lovely neighborhood along the water that most people from outside the borough would be amazed to know even exists. The endpoint is Fort Schuyler, home of the SUNY Maritime College, underneath the Throgs Neck Bridge.

Several of us have written in this blog about ways to get involved in volunteer activities when you have children and a busy career. One way is to make whatever it is a family project.

This is now the fourth time our family has done this ride. Since we travel through some busy streets, our boys have been riding on single-wheel "trail-a-bikes" that my husband and I hitch to the back of our bikes.

The kids really look forward to this event, as do we. Many of our neighbors take part, so for us, it's like a rolling block party. It also means something that the couple who founded and continue to lead the Volunteer Health Program, ophthalmic surgeon Dr. Robert C. Della Rocca and his wife, Darlene, a registered nurse, raised their family in the house we now own.

So this is one way we work a worthwhile cause into our busy lives. We make it a family affair. And while the kids are having fun, they're also learning that many people in the world are not as fortunate as they are.

If you'd like to donate to the Volunteer Health Program, the address is 16 Haines Boulevard, Port Chester, N.Y. 10574.

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