Romaine Gordon of the B-East Fitness Studio said following Saturday afternoon’s spin at Amagansett Square to benefit the Max Cure Foundation, that given the brief time she had to put the event together, it had, thanks largely to her staff of instructors and college and high school kids, gone off quite well.
“In the beginning, we thought of bringing the [RealRyder] bikes to the beach, but settled on the square. It seemed to be the perfect spot — we wanted to call attention to the cause,” she said. “I rode horses as a child and I remember the gymkhanas we had, so we added a free Be Brave adventure course for the children. Jim Kennedy built all the obstacles. I found a ‘spider web’ that they could crawl under, and I got ideas from our own Boot Camp. We made sure it was easy and safe.”
Gordon’s spinners, numbering around 70, donated $75 per hour to Max Cure, whose founders, David Plotkin and his father, Richard, have been working assiduously since 2008 to underwrite efforts to provide less toxic treatment for pediatric cancers and, ultimately, of course, to find cures.
David Plotkin’s 8-year-old son, Max, after whom the foundation is named, was found four years ago to have a rare form of lymphoma in his right forearm after he had fallen while playing ball with his grandfather.
A seven-minute video that the spinners watched traced Max’s ordeal — how his father and mother, Annemarie, had come to learn the bad news, initially through X-rays in which the bone appeared to be covered by “a curtain of moths,” and how they and David’s father resolved not to give in, but to fight back, not only for Max, who has been in remission for the past two years, but for all the other children in the country who have been similarly stricken.
When the video had ended, David Plotkin introduced, to applause, his handsome brown-haired son, whom he called his hero, and who said, “Thank you all for coming — it means a lot to me.”
Gordon said afterward that “we had 53 bikes and when, about halfway through, 10 or 15 got off, they were immediately replaced. As it turned out, we had more who wanted to participate than we were able to accommodate. We made $5,000 through raffle prizes generously donated by local businesspeople . . . I think we raised in the ballpark of $16,000 for the foundation, and we sold tickets to the [Aug. 20] carnival too.”
“In three and a half years, the foundation has raised more than $2 million,” said Max’s grandfather, Richard, a longtime Amagansett summer resident and retired lawyer who has now “devoted [his] life” to the cause.
“Usually lymphoma is in the tissue, not in the bone, which made Max’s case rare,” he continued, adding that one of his legs had been attacked as well. “A hematologist at Ohio State identified the type of cancer it was and he went through two years of heavy-duty chemotherapy between the ages of 4 and 6. He’s in remission now — they check him once a year. Hopefully, he will continue in remission.”
In reply to a question, Max’s grandfather said, “He’s an active, regular little boy, in the third grade at the Dalton School, doing everything. He won’t be playing football, but he can do noncontact sports.”
“In September, on the 24th, he and his father are going to address a Congressional panel that is studying pediatric cancers and their treatments’ side effects. We asked Max what it would take to get him there, and he said, ‘Two weeks at Disney World.’ So be it!”
“Each year, 12,500 children are diagnosed — 80 percent survive,” said the elder Plotkin, adding that grant money the foundation has earmarked for pediatric cancer research has been yielding some promising results. “Pediatric cancer in this country is incredibly underfunded, but if it can be shown that sufficient advances are being made through private foundations, then the National Institutes of Health will take over.”
The foundation’s carnival this Saturday, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the East Hampton Indoor/Outdoor Tennis Club in Wainscott, is being dedicated to the memory of Brigid and Jim Stewart’s late 12-year-old daughter, Katy, who died of a rare form of liver cancer at the turn of the year.
The Plotkin and Stewart families, who might not otherwise have met, were brought together as the result of their children’s struggles with cancer, and in short order became fast friends. This Roar’s for Katy! will include a rock wall, mini-golf games, inflatables, an auction, a raffle, basketball, live music, and a country-style picnic.