After young daughter’s death, Trumbull dad rides for cancer research

TRUMBULL — When Jim McCaffrey lost his 6-year-old daughter Mia to a rare form of pediatric cancer in 2017, the pain of that loss was acute, and not just for the family.

“I think people struggle to connect with us sometimes about Mia,” said McCaffrey, 41, a Trumbull High School English teacher.

When McCaffrey decided to get involved with the charity Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer — a New Jersey-based charity that raises money for research into pediatric cancers — in 2018, he said, it gave people a way to reach out to the family.

“It’s helped us continue Mia’s story — not just for us, but for other people,” McCaffrey said.

On Saturday, McCaffrey will participate in Infinite Love’s second-ever Pedal-Thon, a Peloton-themed fundraiser. The 24-hour event allows people to sign up to donate and ride their Peloton bike for any portion of the fundraiser to help support the charity.

McCaffrey, who is now vice president of Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer, has vowed to stay on the bike for 24 hours. He is one of two teachers who have committed to ride for 24 hours for the event, with the other being Christine Doviak. a first grade teacher in Toms River, N.J.

The Pedal-Thon was conceived largely to help overcome COVID-19-related fundraising obstacles.

“Fundraising is challenging in pandemic times,” McCaffrey said. “Our biggest fundraiser had been our gala, but we haven’t been able to hold that for two years.”

McCaffrey had been planning to stay on his bike for 24 hours during last year’s inaugural Pedal-Thon, but his own diagnosis with lung cancer kept him from doing so. Infinite Love’s founder and president, Andrea Gorsegner, ended up doing the whole ride herself.

Following surgery and treatment, he said, he is now cancer-free. McCaffrey has already trained for and ran the New York City marathon last year, and said he feels he’s up to the challenges of the 24-hour ride. Gorsegner had planned to ride this year too, but contracted COVID-19 a few weeks ago and is still recovering.

Anybody who signs up to participate in the Pedal-Thon will be sent a unique hashtag and the ride schedule for Saturday and Sunday so they can choose which ride to join.

The registration fee is $35, all of which is treated as a donation and will be used to fund new research and provide financial assistance to families. People can also donate without hopping on their bikes.

Last year, the ride raised about $85,000 and McCaffrey said this year’s goal is to exceed that.

“We’d love to hit $100,000,” he said. “That will fund two full research grants.”

According to the Infinite Love web site, childhood cancer only receives 4 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s annual research budget and only three new drugs had been developed for any types of childhood cancer in the past 25 years.

“We think that’s not enough,” McCaffrey said. “We try to bridge the gap that exists in childhood cancer research funding.”

To register for the Pedal-Thon, either as a rider or solely as a donor, visit