June 16, 2008

Biking Community Pulls Together for Pediatric Cancer Patient

By Carl E. Feather, Star Beacon, Ashtabula, Ohio

Jun. 16--The picture of the pediatric cancer patient moved Cindy Rennick to action.

Rennick, bartender at Degees II, 2055 Lake Ave., said she felt compelled to raise money for Gianna Matrisciano and her family, Tyler and Jennifer, after seeing the little girl's photo.

"I don't know her at all," Rennick says of Gianna. "But she is absolutely beautiful and I felt this is something I needed to do."

Rennick says the picture and Gianna's story was especially touching for her because they remind her of the late Taylor Rettinger, who died four years ago of cancer. Taylor was Rennick's niece.

"Four years old, that's really sad," Rennick says of Gianna. "There are so many who have cancer. You can't help every one of them, but that picture just did something to me."

Jennifer Matrisciano says her daughter was diagnosed with a stage 3 Wilms tumor Jan. 12.

"She's doing good. We've had a long, bumpy road. As far as reoccuring, it has not, but it can return."

Gianna faces two more rounds of chemotherapy, with the last one scheduled for July 16.

Rennick says that in the past year she's had three friends succumb to cancer. She saw the toll the disease took on the families emotionally and financially, and wanted to assist the Matrisciano family.

With permission from the bar's owner, Denny Cox, Rennick started the benefit bike night from 6 to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays during the summer. She is also organizing a dice run for Sept. 6.

The premise of the bike nights is simple: Provide a place where motorcycle owners can gather, show off their bikes and raise money for the cancer patient. The latter comes by purchasing 50/50 raffle tickets.

Rennick is looking for bands willing to provide live music in the bar's outdoor pavilion during the bike nights. The entertainment also includes a best bike contest at 8 p.m.

"You get to show off your bike and check out many others while meeting people and having fun," she says. "And most important you will be helping out families with cancer."

The 100-mile dice run will have an entry fee of $15.

"We'll have food, a band, and designate a number of bars and stops. They'll roll the dice at each stop and the best hand will win the pot, whatever we set it at," she says.

She is looking for donations of door prizes for the dice run event. Donors should call her at 213-2079.

A bank account to benefit Gianna Matrisciano is under the name of Degee's II Dice Run for Cancer for those who want to donate to the family.

Rennick has been doing benefit poker runs for 16 years and organized bike nights at the Bottom Line in Conneaut to raise money for multiple sclerosis. She hopes to make the dice run an annual fund-raiser for cancer patients.


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