HUNTINGTON -- Midway through the morning event, an 11-year-old Essex Junction girl was getting exhausted from all the excitement and joy. But it was well worth it as she was thrilled to see some close friends and family during the seventh annual event named after her.

Del’s Ride, a summertime bike ride and fun run, was once again helpful in raising funds for Cure AHC in support of Delaney Johnson this Labor Day Weekend. Held Sept. 7 at Sleepy Hollow Ski and Bike Center in Huntington for in-person participation, the event had a different look this year as half of its “attendees” did so virtually.

Her favorite day of the year turned into the start of her favorite week of the year as Delaney’s mother, Katrina Sliwka, said her daughter woke up Monday morning and said, “Today, Del’s Ride. Tomorrow, school!” Sept. 8 will be Delaney’s first day as a fifth grader at Thomas Fleming School, something she’s been looking forward to since school buildings were closed in March.

To prevent large gatherings, participants signed up and took off at staggered times throughout the morning. As first reported last week, Del’s Ride 2020 followed suit of many events being held this year by allowing supporters to participate virtually from the comfort of their home or a favorite trail of theirs.

Sliwka and Delaney’s father, Ben Johnson, said there were about 30 people who signed up for that option -- something which had been thought about before and will likely be considered in the future due to its success.

Sliwka explained that she’s originally from Michigan and that Ben is from Idaho, so a lot of their family is from the midwest and was able to get involved this year through the virtual option. Two Moccamaster coffee makers and coffee were up for grabs to the highest-two fund-raising individuals with one going to a family friend from New Hampshire who also partook without being at Sleepy Hollow.

“It’s a great way to feel like they’re connected and part of this too,” said Sliwka. “It was such a bright spot for our family to be able to still have Del’s Ride this year.”

Sliwka’s sister, Gara Seagraves, is a family member who moved to Vermont from Chicago in the last couple years, volunteered at the 2019 event, and partook in the running portion this past weekend.

“It’s a tough run, but it was a lot of run,” said Seagroves. “I think [the event and cause are] amazing. Especially coming from a big city, living in a smaller state and a small community, how invested people are in supporting kids with special needs or special causes and how many hours people put in to volunteer for an event like this.”

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