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Teen starts charity ride to honor friend and benefit pediatric cancer patients

Sofia Rzymski and Ali Spears
Posted at 12:09 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 15:09:26-05

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Sofia Rzymski and Ali Spears met when they were 10 years old. But just a short time later, Ali was diagnosed with leukemia.

“In 2019, she sadly passed away, but a few years ago, her parents started the Ali Spears Foundation. So through that foundation, we have been able to help other kids like Ali,” said Rzymski.

Through a golf tournament and other fundraisers, the foundation has raised tens of thousands of dollars. But Sofia wanted to do even more.

“Last year marked their 16th birthday, their sweet 16. So Sofia really wanted to do something meaningful to give back instead of having a big party for herself,” said Ali’s mother, Mara.

Instead of a party, Sofia created the Ride for Ali Bike-a-Thon. It's a 16-mile ride on the Pinellas Trail that raised more than $14,000 for pediatric cancer patients.

“It means a lot to me because it kind of brings honor to Ali and it allows the memory to keep living with her and to basically raise money for people liked Ali,” said Rzymski.

“It goes directly to research to eliminate the reoccurrence of exactly what Ali had AML after a bone marrow transplant, and so it’s very near and dear to our hearts, and there are six kids in a trial right now,” said Spears.

“We are hoping that every single year we do this that it keeps getting bigger and bigger,” said Rzymski.

The next “Ride for Ali” event is Feb. 25.

This article was written by Erik Waxler for WFTS.