'Today' host Matt Lauer pedals into New London
New London – NBC “Today” show co-host Matt Lauer cycled down State Street to the Parade Plaza at noon Monday, met by applause and chants of “Go Matt, go” from about 30 people, many wearing plastic red noses.
“What a nice welcome,” said Lauer, who had started at 5:30 a.m. in Providence, stopping in Mystic along the way to see Mystic Seaport’s 57-foot inflatable whale, Spouter, before pedaling through stiff winds over the Gold Star Memorial Bridge. “Everything they say about the hills in Connecticut is true.”
The New London stop was part of a five-day, 230-mile Boston-to-New York bike ride that began Sunday as a fundraiser for the inaugural Red Nose Day in the United States on Thursday. The charity, begun by comedians in the United Kingdom who wore red noses to draw attention to their efforts, raises money for groups that support children living in poverty.
Representatives of the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Connecticut and Save the Children, two of the 12 charities that would benefit from money raised on Red Nose Day, were on hand at the Parade Plaza, along with Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio and City Councilors Wade Hyslop and Efrain Dominguez Jr. Barbara Neff, executive director of the Downtown New London Association, presented Lauer with a check for $1,000 for the Red Nose Day Fund donated by the DNLA, City Center District and Blu-Prints Unlimited.
“This isn’t about a bike ride, this is about supporting the causes that help kids living in poverty,” said Lauer. “I encourage everyone to go online to rednoseday.org and make a donation.”
Before getting back on his bicycle, Lauer sat on the stairs of the plaza with Shanice Patterson, a 10-year-old from West Haven, to record a television interview for a waiting crew of NBC cameras about her experiences in the Boys and Girls Club.
“It’s really fun,” she told him, listing activities including a talent show, movies and dances, and sharing that her dream is to one day own her own dance studio. “It’s a good organization, because kids don’t always have a place to go after school.”
After giving her a hug, Lauer got back on his bicycle to catch Cross Sound Ferry to Orient Point. From there he would ride to Port Jefferson, N.Y., on Tuesday and then to Flushing Meadow, N.Y., on Wednesday before arriving in New York City on Thursday for Red Nose Day.
“Is it OK to sleep on the ferry?” he asked.