Riding for Hospice

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By Amy Ryffel-Kragh

Though he is a doctor, no one is taught to know what to expect when a family member has a terminal illness, said Dr. Peter Polack. But, Hope Hospice was there to help.

Ocala Eye’s, Dr. Michael Morris, and James Tomlinson, marketing director, came up with the idea to have a bicycling event in memory of the late, Dr. Frank Polack, who is Peter’s father. To give back to Hospice, who cared for the eye doctor, Ocala Eye is hosting the 2nd Annual Frank Polack Memorial Ride, which will be May 31.

Peter, who is a doctor at Ocala Eye and cornea specialist like his father, said the main reason for the annual ride is to promote awareness about the organization. Though his father was receiving assistance from Haven Hospice in Gainesville, the family received services through the Hospice of Marion County.

He said Dr. Segismundo “Picky” Pares, who works at the Marion County Hospice, came to Gainesville on a Sunday to speak with the family. “The services that Hospice provided were very helpful,” he said.

Last year, the event brought in about $14,000 for the organization with 110 bicyclists participating, said Tomlinson, who organized the event. With a little more than two weeks before the trek, it is already off to a good start. Tomlinson said they have 72 people pre-registered and are anticipating having more than 100 people.

Karen Haven, development assistant for Hospice of Marion County, said it is hard to predict how much money the ride will bring in this year, but Hospice is “thankful” for the fundraiser.

Cyclists have the option of a 30- or 62-mile trek. Both of the rides start at Hospice of Marion County. The 30-mile ride will include one rest stop and the 62-mile trek has two stops. Sports drinks are available at the each rest stop. Olive Garden and Cheney Brothers will provide the food for the event.

The money raised from the Frank Polack Memorial Ride will “go to our patient care program,” Haven said.

To register for the ride, visit www.active.com or contact Hospice of Marion County at 854-5218. Forms can also be downloaded at the www.ocalaeye.com. Registration is $45. Helmets are required.