Team Maslanka Finishes 500-mile Bike Ride to Raise Money for Runaways
By Naina Waghray
— Patti Maslanka and her family recently completed another 500-mile grueling bike ride — much of it in the pouring rain — to raise funds for Anchor House in Trenton.
This year, Maslanka was accompanied by her husband Rob, and her kids: Chris, Jeffrey, Carolyn, Mark, Rebecca, and Sara — together known as “Team Homecare Vet.”
The team started with a donation goal of $10,000 but raised a grand total of $13,886. During the seven years the Maslankas have participated, they have raised more than $80,000 for Anchor House, a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide resources and a safe place for abused, runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth.
Unlike previous years, this year’s fundraiser was “virtual,” so bikers rode independently during a six-week time frame.
Maslanka has been running Rocky Hill’s Homecare Veterinary Clinic since 1987 as the head veterinarian. She emphasizes the compassionate care she provides for her patients and has implemented a modified structure under the current climate of COVID-19 to continue to function safely.
Maslanka initially heard about the Anchor House event at her church. “I made note of it in the back of my mind, and how it seemed like a good way to make an impact in a way our family would enjoy,” she said.
People were able to donate to Anchor House on its website’s donations page through Team HomeCare Vet.
To prepare for the long journey, the family rented an RV and set off for their starting location of Ticonderoga, New York. From there, the team began biking, while Maslanka’s husband, Rob, followed along in the RV.
The ride totaled nearly 500 miles, ending at Niagara Falls (see video), and took them about five and a half days in July.
Although her husband did not participate directly through biking, Maslanka praises him for supporting the family throughout the ride. “Rob not only drove the RV, but he obtained food for us along the way, provided SAG (Support and Gear) stops, and provided rover service for when our bikes broke down," she said. "So he was pretty much the rover-bike-mechanic, route planner, and hotel room driver all in one!”
Each day, the team made consistent progress, usually biking about 60 to 70 miles. “On the third day, we reached Lake Ontario, which was really amazing, and we were able to watch the comet on the shores of the lake that night. That was really special.”
Despite the special moment, the family later ran into particularly grueling weather. “On the last day, we encountered ferocious rain… It had been such a tough ride that day, we actually thought about giving up about 15 miles out [from Niagara Falls] because we were just miserable.”
However, the family persisted onwards, reminding themselves of the ultimate goal.
Maslanka stresses how important family is to her, as she is married and has six kids. With many of her children being in school or having jobs, Maslanka reflected on this journey, saying it was valuable “family bonding time” for them.
As the family reached the end of their ride, Maslanka said “the sun actually came out briefly. We had about a half hour of rain-free ride… it was just amazing.”
Maslanka and her family were able to cherish the beautiful and lasting moments marking the end of their journey. She plans to continue to fund raise for the organization in the coming years to support the youth of New Jersey, hoping to create the same kind of supportive and loving atmosphere she finds within her own family. ■