FAIRFIELD >> Fairfield Ludlowe head boys’ basketball coach John Dailey remembers the last time they faced Fairfield Warde.
It was last January in a packed gymnasium at Ludlowe. It was also the last basketball game Warde’s Giacomo Brancato started in.
In late 2014, Brancato was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — a cancer of the lymph tissue in the autoimmune system.
He missed most of the basketball season and the entire baseball season. But the rising senior kept fighting.
On June 25th, his mom, Mirella Brancato tweeted that his latest pet scan was clear and he is in remission.
— Mirella Brancato (@MirellaBrancato) June 25, 2015
Now this July 25th, he’ll get a chance with friends, family and other supporters throughout the state to celebrate his fight and journey.
“The way he’s bounced back is a real tribute to his character and toughness,” said Dailey, who will be riding with members of his team (Team Ludlowe Basketball) in support of Brancato. “I think this is a really nice culmination to celebrate his will to battle cancer and not let cancer define who he is. I think he’s ready to get back out there playing again.”
The bike ride starts Saturday morning at 8 a.m. at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport.
Individuals have the option of riding 10, 25, 50, 75 or 100 miles. There is also a 2-day ride that starts in Bear Mountain, N.Y. the day before.
Funds raised from the ride support cancer survivors, hospitals around the state which are members of the CT Challenge Survivorship network and additional groundbreaking research.
“It’s all about giving survivors a bridge back from cancer to the lives they had before the disease struck and to the future they aspire to after treatment is done,” according to the CT Challenge website. “And it’s about honoring all who have battled this disease.”
CT Challenge, a non-profit organization, co-founded by Fairfield native and cancer survivor Jeff Keith, provides a Survivorship Center in Southport that has allowed Brancato to stay in shape through his fight.
Dailey said he was made aware of the ride through Paul Krumins, who is the team captain of Brancato’s ride and one of Brancato’s basketball coaches growing up.
“He approached me and told me about the ride and asked if I wanted to come down to the offices,” Dailey said. “We had a meeting and it’s just a great way to show support.”
Dailey explained right now there are about six to seven individuals riding on Ludlowe (numbers could change), including past and present players. He said there’s a few others riding on Team Giacomo, which currently have 31 team members. Dailey said he’s already raised close to $1,000.
“(The CT Challenge Bike Ride) it’s been a big thing in Fairfield,” said Ludlowe rising sophomore basketball player Cole Prowitt-Smith, who will ride 25 miles. “Yeah he’s (Giacomo) on our rival team but I’m really close with the family; he’s a great kid and being able to help out in any way is great.”
Dailey said both him and Warde basketball coach Ryan Swaller agree strongly that while there are two schools, this is one town.
During basketball games and other sporting events this past school year Ludlowe and other multiple teams in Fairfield County wore T-shirts with Brancato’s name and the slogan ‘Undefeatable.’
Prowitt-Smith, who is currently in Memphis, Tenn. for AAU Nationals with Brancato’s younger brother Antonio, said he was able to see Giacomo recently when he came by his house.
“When he stopped by he looked great,” Prowitt-Smith said. “Me being a basketball player like him, it’s great to see him doing so good. He’s been a really good friend.”