Spotlight Newsletter | Susan Brown

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Susan Brown shows us all what courage is

Spotlight Winter 2018 Susan Brown
LEFT–RIGHT: Jim Scott (Susan’s husband), Susan Brown, Bill Tommins from sponsororganization Bank of America, Bonnie Reitsma (Mark Reitsma’s wife), Steve Reitsma (Mark and Bonnie’s son)

This year’s Mark Reitsma Closer to Free Courage Award was given to Susan Brown, on the morning of September 9, 2017, just before the Ride began.

Susan was diagnosed in 2014 with Stage 4 metastatic melanoma—with several malignant tumors throughout her body. An advanced practice nurse, Susan knew right away what a grave diagnosis that was. Her oncologist at Smilow, Mario Sznol, MD, couldn’t give her any guarantees, but he said he thought he could give her some good years. She told him all she wanted was to be around to see her son, then age 15, graduate from high school.

The next year, Susan participated in the 2015 Closer to Free Ride. She and her husband have organized teams and ridden each year since, raising nearly $109,000 to date for Smilow Cancer Hospital.

When Marna Borgstrom, CEO of Yale New Haven Hospital, announced her as this year’s Mark Reitsma Courage award recipient, she was honored and elated.

“Thank you, Mario Sznol, for giving me the ability to see my son graduate from high school,” she said as she accepted her award in front of thousands of riders and supporters. “We just dropped him off at Union College this weekend!”

The Courage Award is given each year in honor of Mark Reitsma, who passed away from lung cancer in 2014. Mark rode in the very first Closer to Free Ride when his cancer was in remission, and continued to ride and raise funds for Smilow even after his cancer returned.

Susan, you are inspiring!

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