This year, Darien residents have joined forces with several in its "rival" town of New Canaan to form Team Darien-New Canaan and participate in the sixth annual Connecticut Challenge charity bike ride on Saturday, July 24, in Fairfield.

Team co-captains, 12-year old Luke Whittaker, a two-time cancer survivor, and 12-year-old Sammee Mazzone, invite all Darien and New Canaan residents to join them as the towns come together, ride and fund raise in honor and support of all the cancer survivors and their families in their community.

The Connecticut Challenge is a charity bike ride that funds cancer survivorship programs across Connecticut for adults and children. All of the funds raised by Connecticut Challenge riders are spent on this crucial cancer survivor care.

"We are riding and raising money to support the Connecticut Challenge cancer survivorship programs that will help our friends and family members who have battled cancer and those that are still in the fight," Sammee said about her fourth time participating.

"We want to keep raising money together for the Connecticut Challenge so that as many cancer survivors as possible can have access to great care after their treatments and live long and healthy lives," said Luke, who will lead the ride on behalf of his team in the "Survivors' Lap of Honor" again for the third time this year.

More than 600 riders, hailing from 70 Connecticut towns and 14 states, are expected to participate in the ride this year.

"We are excited by the growth in the number of riders. This tells us that our message about addressing the special needs of cancer survivors is being heard across the state. People really see the Connecticut Challenge as a way to help the cancer survivors in their lives," said Bob Mazzone, the organization's executive director.

Connecticut Challenge riders can choose between 12-, 25-, 50-, 75- and 100-mile rides, plus the "Junior Ride" for younger children of adult riders. Those interested in joining Team Darien-New Canaan can visit or

This year, Team Darien-New Canaan is adding a wine tasting and shopping event as a pre-ride awareness and fundraiser on July 22 at the New Canaan Wine Merchants. In addition to supporting the team's fundraising efforts by donating 10 percent of all store purchases from 5 to 8 p.m. (including phone-in orders) to Team Darien-New Canaan and the Connecticut Challenge. Store owner and team member Tony Menchaca will host a toasting pep rally at 6:30 p.m.

For more information on the event or Team Darien-New Canaan, contact Kim Kiner Mazzone at 203-948-6237.