ROUSES POINT Motorcycle enthusiasts from across New York and the Green Mountain State will soon gather in honor of those who face the everyday struggle of cancer. The annual Jeff Wyand Miracle Ride to benefit Fletcher Allen Health Cares Vermont Childrens Hospital in Burlington, will be held next Sunday, Aug. 17, with hundreds of bikers expected to attend the increasingly popular event. The Jeff Wyand Miracle Ride began in 2005, then known as Biking for Miracles. The ride was established by Tom Wyand of Plattsburgh, in honor of his son, Jeff, who was battling pediatric cancer at the time. Jeff succumbed to his cancer in November 2006, at the age of 18. The ride was then named in his memory. He was the inspiration for it so it seemed quite appropriate to change its identity in his memory, said organizer Laura Simmers. Though the name of the ride has changed, its focus has not, Simmers said. The approximately 56-mile parade-style ride will follow a windy route from the Rouses Point Civic Center on Lake Street and proceed south on State Route 9 to Chazy. There, the ride will continue on Miner Farm Road, Lake Shore Road and Point Au Roche Road, before heading back onto Route 9. The ride will then proceed to Spellman Road, State Route 22, ONeil Road, Duquette Road, Military Turnpike and State Route 3 before entering the city of Plattsburgh on Broad Street. The ride will conclude by turning onto Peru Street, then following Bridge Street to Dock Street, where it will end at the Naked Turtle. There, a traditional barbecue celebration will be held. A new facet to the event this year is the rides poker crawl. Anyone who pays an additional amount to enter the crawl will be able to pick up playing cards at three different locations along the route, receiving a total of five cards in all. When the ride ends, each participant is checked to see who has the best poker hand. First through third prizes and a consolation prize for the player with the bust hand will be awarded. In the event of a tie, a blind raffle will be held to determine the winner. Whats really interesting about the poker crawl is that we are producing a specialized deck of cards, so the cards will have the Jeff Wyand Miracle Ride logo and on the other side there will be pictures of children who are treated at Vermont Childrens Hospital, said Simmers. Itll be a really nice commemorative item and something for people to tie in what theyre doing and why theyre helping. The poker crawl is similar to a traditional poker run, though in that scenario, riders traditionally split up to get their cards as quick as possible. The crawl encourages riders to stick together, said Simmers, in order to maintain the stirring image of hundreds of bikers riding in unison. We didnt want to split up the ride because its great to see these 900 plus bikes come riding through all these towns in upstate New York, said Simmers. The ride typically sees 900-1,200 participants each year, Simmers added, annually raising anywhere from $40,000-$60,000 to support what she calls a very worthwhile cause. The Jeff Wyand Miracle Ride is a great way for you to support the children and families in our community that depend on the wonderful care provided by Vermont Childrens Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care, said Simmers. With your support, either by making a contribution or supporting one of the riders, you can truly make difference in your community. Every gift helps and every dollar raised here in our community stays right here to support the programs and services at Vermont Childrens Hospital. Registration for the ride will be held from 9-11:30 a.m. the day of the event. The cost is $35 per person, with an additional $20 entry fee for those wishing to enter the poker crawl competition. For more information, visit www.vermontchildrenshospital.org and click on the link for the 2008 Jeff Wyand Miracle Ride. Donations may also be made on the Web site or by mailing them to Fletcher Allen Health Care Development Office, 111 Colchester Ave., Burlington, Vt. 05401.