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We Ride to Remember

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.” — Laurence Binyon, British Poet

Wheels for the World in Providence, Rhode Island

They rode in the bright sunshine and heavy heat in Providence, Rhode Island, to remember a special person in the hemophilia community, Barry Haarde, and to raise funds and awareness for those with bleeding disorders in developing countries, who still suffer from untreated bleeding. It was Save One Life’s second annual Wheels for the World in conjunction with New England Hemophilia Association. About 25 riders gathered—one family from Pennsylvania!— to share the joy of riding, and gratitude for having treatment in the US to stop bleeding.

For me it was only my second hemophilia event in over two years to attend! I had just returned from Kilimanjaro, so decided to sit this one out and attend as a volunteer—though there was little to do! The team from NEHA and Save One Life had it all under control.

A special guest was Emily “Weez” Cobb, Barry’s sister, who attended with her husband Billy, to say some words about Barry, and what this ride meant to her. Barry, as most people in the community know, was a person with hemophilia A and HIV, who also had a permanently contracted knee. He created the idea to ride his bicycle across the US to raise awareness for those affected by hemophilia and lack of treatment in developing countries. He also did it to honor the fallen: those with hemophilia who were killed by HIV, from infected blood products and treatment in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Barry would eventually ride six times across the US over six years, raising more than $250,000 for Save One Life.

Sadly, he took his own life in February 2018, which stunned the country. He had overcome hemophilia, HIV and hepatitis C, but not mental health issues. He was beloved by the community, and Wheels for the World honors his character and commitment.

Weez reminded us all how much Barry wanted to show the younger generation what was possible, despite hemophilia and all its complications. She also said how important it is to remember those who are no longer with us. Wheels for the World keeps memories of Barry alive, and continues his cause, for which she and her family are grateful. Weez has known much loss: her two brothers and mother all died within a few years of one another; her 17-year-old daughter Patty died in a car crash; and her first husband died also of HIV, as he also had hemophilia.

Remember those who are gone “helps with the grieving process,” she said. And no matter how many years go by, people still grieve.

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of Barry’s first ride: over 3,000 miles from coast to coast.

At the end of this ride, which was about 28 miles, Save One Life and NEHA  provided food and drink at the Narragansett Pub, where we had some surprise news for everyone, especially the Cobb family: my boyfriend, Doug Mildram, has volunteered to re-create Barry’s first ride, from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine, in 2023. Seven weeks of riding, at 100 miles per day. Not many people could accept this challenge, but Doug has been training all his life. Doug had met Barry, and they discovered they both worked at Hewlett Packard, and both love cycling. Barry inspired Doug, as he inspired me, and inspired everyone he met.

We hope our community will welcome Doug along the route from coast to coast with open arms as they did Barry, who we will honor with this ride, and to continue to raise funds for families in poverty overseas.

Thank you NEHA and Save One Life for an outstanding event! Thanks to Weez and Billy for flying up to join us—see you next year, when Doug comes riding into Portland, Maine, to celebrate another Wheels for the World, and to remember our beloved Barry.

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