Many grandparents call their grandchildren “angels,” but Beverly Voyce of Joliet means it more literally.
Voyce’s granddaughter, Kayley Stofan of Joliet, was 7 when she died in 2004 from a neuroblastoma, and Voyce and her family are determined to keep Kayley’s memory alive.
Neuroblastoma occurs most frequently in infants and children, according to the American Cancer Society. The tumors form in early nerve cells anywhere in the sympathetic nervous system.
So on Sunday in Georgia, Voyce, 83, will bike 30 miles in Camp Twin Lakes’ Spin for Kids fundraiser as part of the Kayley-4-Campers team. The team includes three generations: Voyce, her two sons and her grandson, she said.
Spin for Kids raises money for Camp Twin Lakes, a nonprofit that provides “fully adaptive, medically supportive and deeply impactful camp experiences to more than 10,000″ children and young adults in Georgia, according to the Camp Twin Lakes website.
As of Monday, the Kayley-4-Campers team has raised $15,095 in donations.
“I am involved with this charity because it helps put a smile on a child’s face. A smile – that is my goal,” Voyce said. “Maybe my [team] help can make a difference in a child’s life. The charity will send a child to camp for week. The child might have cancer or a disability or a life challenge that may never be able to experience camp if not for this Camp Twin Lakes.”
This is Voyce’s fourth ride with Spin for Kids. In Voyce’s first year, the team raised $8,000, she said. Because of COVID-19, Voyce did the ride on her own the last two years, she said.
Voyce might have missed these experiences if she hadn’t stubbed her toe 28 years ago. Voyce’s daughter and son had just bought bicycles, so Voyce asked if she could borrow one, since she wasn’t able to walk well.
At first, Voyce rode a couple miles in her subdivision. But she ventured a little farther the next day and the day after that. Soon, Voyce was averaging 65 to 70 miles a ride and taking extended rides – up to a week at a time with the Joliet Bicycle Club, she said.
“When Kaylee developed her cancer, they were there for me,” Voyce said. “I could talk to them about it every day on a ride and they’d listen.”
Voyce bikes about three times a week in the summer and fall now that she’s “a little older now.”
“I don’t ride as fast as I once did,” Voyce said. “And I only do 30 to 40 miles when I do go out.”
Voyce said she biked “a little more leisurely” until she began training for the Oct. 2 fundraiser. These days, her rides are “a little more intense,” she said.
“In fact, when I’m out riding, I tell myself, ‘Get moving. You have to do it for the kids,’” Voyce said.
Voyce understands the benefit of fundraisers. On Sept. 2, 2006, Voyce held a fundraiser at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet to benefit the pediatric cancer Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, she said.
Will County even designated Sept. 2, 2006, as Kayley’s Day for Children’s Cancer, Voyce said.
“My friends and so many caring people raised $125,000,” Voyce said.
Voyce said she felt slightly anxious before her first Spin for the Kids because the route was hilly. Voyce was accustomed to Illinois’ flat land, she said.
But Voyce said she was 80 at the time and felt if she declined, she might not get another chance.
“So I rode,” Voyce said. “And I finished.”
Voyce is a little anxious this year with hurricanes in the forecast because wind is not a biker’s friend, she said. But, again, Voyce’s focus is on the children.
“Seeing a child ill, it really touches you,” Voyce said.
To donate, visit p2p.onecause.com/spinforkids2022/team/kayley-4-campers-2.
For information, visit camptwinlakes.org.