PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A 15-year-old Pinellas County girl is raising money for a bike-a-thon in honor of her late friend who passed away from a from pediatric cancer.
Sofia Rzymski and her friend Ali Spears grew up in the same neighborhood, and became closer through Girl Scouts after Spears was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
“Later on we decided to actually make her a Girl Scout. So we invited her into our troop and we were able to do so many fun things and earn patches and really actually grow our friendship through Girl Scouts,” Rzymski explained.
Being a Girl Scout, of course, meant cookie sales – something Spears couldn’t do while she was in the hospital.
“We actually, me and my sister, we sold cookies for her and we gave her the prizes because she was in the hospital and she really couldn’t go out and sell,” Rzymski said. “So we did that for her and we got all the patches, which she loved and all the cute little prizes.”
Spears passed away from AML on March 12, 2019.
This year, Rzymski plans to honor her close friend, the year they should be turning 16 together.
She’s holding a single-rider bike-a-thon to raise money for the Ali Spears Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping fund research to find a cure for pediatric cancer. The event is called “Sofia Rides for Ali.”
Rzymski plans on riding 16 miles down the Pinellas Trail on Spears’ birthday, Feb. 12.
The ride will begin in Tarpon Springs and end in Clearwater Beach, with a halfway point at Kafe Racer in Dunedin.
Almost $8,000 has been raised so far, but Rzymski is working toward a meaningful goal.
“I have a really big goal of raising $32,000. Because it kind of symbolizes, since I’m doing this for our 16th birthdays, it’s like $16,000 for her and $16,000 for me,” she said.
She hopes her ride will raise awareness for pediatric cancer.
“Also I really want to basically honor Ali and her memory and for people to understand her story and feel connected by that, and maybe even relate if they can. And I just basically want us to come together and I just basically want us to come together and definitely raise money for kids like Ali,” Rzymski said.
She believes her friend would be excited for what she is looking to accomplish.
“I think she would be super excited. Maybe she wouldn’t ride along, maybe she would have like a princess carriage with her, because that’s what she would probably want, since that’s how she is,” Rzymski said. “I think she would be really happy about it and love it.”
To learn more about Sofia Rides For Ali, make a donation and follow Rzymski’s progress, head to rideforali.com.