Friday, August 6, 2004

?Ride free, Andrew?

Cancer victim?s legacy provides fitting ride to Camp Rainbow Gold


Andrew Colin outside the hospital after winning a Harley Davidson motorcycle. With him is Camp Rainbow Gold Director Rob Cronin who will ride the bike this Sunday in the motorcycle escort

In the summer of 2003, Hailey resident Rob Cronin bought a raffle ticket for a friend, 20-year-old Boise native Andrew Colin. Cronin had met and befriended Colin at Camp Rain-bow Gold four years prior, when Colin was a camper afflicted with a malignant form of kidney cancer. At that time, when he was 16, Colin was told by doctors that he had one year to live.

Cronin bought the raffle ticket the morning of the drawing in the sum-mer of 2003 when Colin had outlived all medical expectations. That after-noon, Andrew won the 2000 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wideglide. As soon as the winner was announced, Kris Cronin ran to the nearest phone to call Colin as he lay in a hospital bed in Boise. By this time, his cancer was spreading and his outlook was grim.

A Custom Paint Job

Before the Harley raffle, Wood River resident and accomplished automobile painter Gary Fox had donated a custom paint job to the bike?s eventual winner. Then, three weeks before the raffle, Fox lost an eye in a landscaping accident. The day before suffering this life-altering injury, Fox had signed the papers to open his own body and paint shop. After the accident, he was forced to abandon the plans.

Despite these towering setbacks, Fox was determined to paint his last motorcycle. When he learned the winner was terminally ill, his will was steeled; the bike would be painted.

Radar Blue

As a teenager, Colin had acquired a ?radar blue? 1967 Barracuda. The car, a ?real junker,? according to Cro-nin, sat in his yard, in complete disre-pair. ?There were birds nests in it,? Cronin said. In 2002, Colin was vis-ited by the national Make-A-Wish Foundation. His wish was to restore the Barracuda. The car was restored and Colin drove the vintage car with pride.

After winning the bike, Colin took Fox up on his offer and asked for the bike to be painted, fittingly, radar blue. The bike would match the Bar-racuda.

For Fox, with diminished eyesight, this would be his ?last motorcycle,? but a rewarding way to end his painting career.

One Last Ride

Days after the raffle, Cronin deliv-ered the Harley to Colin in Boise. Colin traded his wheelchair for the driver?s seat, climbed aboard the Harley and revved the engines for the cameras of Boise newspapers and TV stations.

?We made a celebrity out of him,? Cronin recalled.

Once the cameras were gone, Colin?s nurses unhooked his IVs as he wrapped his arms around Cronin for a ride around Boise.

?I took him for a 30 minute ride. We peeled out and even rode on sidewalks.?

According to Cronin, the ride was a huge success. Colin maintained his strength and was thrilled.

?He was over the moon.?

Upon returning to the hospital, the Cronins wheeled Colin back to his room.

?He insisted then on standing up and walking us to the elevator,? says Cronin. ?That was the last time we saw him.?

Knowing that her son?s cancer was terminal, Andrew?s mother Candy Colin brought her son home days later. She brought her son home, not simply to die at home, but also to celebrate his 21st birthday. An im-promptu party was thrown, 50 people attended, and Colin wore his Harley-Davidson jacket. A cake was pre-sented bearing the words ?Ride Free, Andrew.?

Fifteen minutes after the last guest departed, Colin told his mother he was feeling tired. He lay down to rest and within moments, passed away.

At the funeral, Cronin brought the bike and took Candy Colin on a ride on her late son?s bike.

?We were riding and she leaned into my ear and whispered ?There?s three of us on this bike,? and you could feel it, really, it was amazing,? Cronin said.

Camp Rainbow Gold

Every summer, a caravan of mo-torcycles escorts the camp bus full of kids to Camp Rainbow Gold, 11 miles north of Ketchum. Since Colin?s passing, Fox finished the paint job and Candy Colin asked Cro-nin to lead the caravan, in her son?s honor, on his Harley. The ride takes place Sunday, Aug. 8. Cronin plans on leading roughly 200 motorcycles to the camp.

In his will, Colin left the bike to his mother and the 1967 Barracuda to his nephew. Later this summer, the Harley will return to Boise and hope-fully be sold to help Candy Colin pay the still towering medical bills.

For the remainder of the summer, the Cronins plan to continue their tireless fundraising for Camp Rain-bow Gold. This summer?s fundraising goal is $6,000 and the incentive is Hailey resident Randy Miller?s hair.

Miller, whose last haircut came when he shaved his head three years ago, has ?a beard down to his belly and a head of hair that goes down past the middle of his back,? Cronin said. Miller has agreed, upon Cronin hit-ting his $6,000 goal, to shave his head ?for the last time.? If funds reach $9,000, ?he?ll shave his eyebrows,? promises Cronin. ?And he is not cute bald.?

The Camp Rainbow Gold Fund-raiser is Sunday, Aug. 8, at the Red Elephant, in Hailey beginning in the later afternoon. The band Straight Up is playing.

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