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Breast Cancer Awareness Spotlight: Shannon Carney

shannon & daveCancer affects each individual differently, but nearly all those affected can agree that cancer is not a solo battle, but a battle that is best fought as a team. Shannon Carney, long time 24 Hours of Booty rider, found her support system to be her key to survival when she was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2003.

While breast cancer is commonly found either by self examination or a mammogram, Shannon’s partner Dave discovered hers unexpectedly. After 11 years of being cancer-free, Shannon still recalls the numb feeling she felt upon diagnosis. Shannon tried to treat her breast cancer like any other problem that needed to be solved — get the facts, make a decision and act quickly.

“I thought it would be like a sprint run, hit the ground running hard and finish fast,” said Shannon Carney.  “But we quickly came to realize this was more like a marathon and that diagnosis was merely filling in the sign-up form.  The training and race were yet to come.”

For Shannon, physical treatments, such as chemotherapy proved to be the most challenging for her. However, her physical pain was offset by the emotional and spiritual support she received. Despite experiencing challenges that come with cancer, Shannon and Dave made a conscious choice to continue to do what they love, which included spending time in nature with friends. For example, the night before each chemo treatment, a group of their friends would come to their house for a backyard party.  Memories of friends laughing gave Shannon comfort when undergoing treatment.

Shannon’s experience with breast cancer including its physical, emotional and spiritual challenges taught her that the battle requires both stamina and quiet time to process the obstacles it brings. As a result of her cancer journey,  Shannon and Dave decided to spread their passion for friends and nature to others and founded Wind River Cancer Wellness Retreats & Programs in 2007. The organization, a beneficiary of 24 Hours of Booty, focuses on the mind, body and spirit — fostering friendships, simplifying, laughing and spending time in nature.

The difficult aspects of cancer, emotional and spiritual struggles, are experienced by a majority of people affected by cancer. More than 40% of all cancer patients go through some form of depression. While most of the feelings do not last, these emotions should not be taken lightly. After seeing cancer from the other side, Shannon stresses to others not to be afraid to seek a counselor or support group.

“Do not go it alone,” Shannon said. “Support looks different for every person.  Find what works for you. That might be prayer, meditation or time in nature.  Or staying active on your “good” days, with a walk, yoga class or light bike ride, more likely a combination of all of these.”

To learn more about Shannon and Wind River Cancer Wellness Retreats and programs please visit http://www.windriverservices.org/.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Spotlight: Kate Nowrouki

Kate_Breast CancerYoung, no family history, healthy. These three thoughts circled in the back of 24 Hours of Booty Columbia rider, Kate Nowrouki’s mind, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36.

It all began to unravel when Kate inadvertently found a lump in her breast during a self-examination. Kate immediately went to her OBGYN to check it out. Her doctor said the chances the lump was cancerous were slight since she was under the age of 40 and did not have a family history of the disease.  She insisted on getting more definitive answers and  having a mammogram, but was told that due to her age that her insurance company may not cover the cost. Fortunately, Kate’s insurance came through and the lump  ended up being benign. However, Kate was not in the clear yet. Her mammogram revealed massive cancer cells, which led to her decision to have a mastectomy.

“The whole journey has been such a positive experience overall, it gives you a whole new perspective for life,” Kate Nowrouzi said. “I learned to appreciate all the little things even more than before with my wonderful and supportive husband and two beautiful children.”

Cancer does not discriminate. Every person no matter their age, health, or family history are susceptible to cancer, but the difference as with any obstacle in life is how one reacts. For Kate, she took charge of her health and performed self-examinations that led to her early detection, which proved to be lifesaving.

“I highly encourage young women to get a mammogram, its never too early,” Kate said. “And if you have a family history, do the genetic test even if your issuance won’t pay for it. It would be the best $2,800.00  you have ever spent! Early detection can save a life. And my last message…be a little kinder today, life is too short!”

For more information on how you can help detect breast cancer early visit the American Cancer Society’s resource website.

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Vote for 24 Hours of Booty in Endurance Magazine’s 2014 Best of Survey!

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.48.41 AMIt’s time to cast your vote for 24 Hours of Booty! Wednesday, October 15 is the last day to complete Endurance Magazine’s 2014 Best Of Survey.

Endurance Magazine is the premier publication in the Carolina’s promoting active lifestyles. The annual survey of the best in endurance sports for 2014, assesses people in the three Carolina regions where the magazine publishes – Charlotte, Triad and Raleigh/Durham areas. Categories range from running, cycling and swimming to nutrition, bodywork and mental fitness.

Vote for 24 Hours of Booty for the Best Charity Ride in Charlotte for 2014! Start the survey here.

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Mount Vernon Presbyterian School Strengthens Atlanta Community as Host Venue for 24 Hours of Booty

mvpsThis year marks the fifth annual 24 Hours of Booty Atlanta and the third year the event will be hosted by Mount Vernon Presbyterian School (MVPS). The partnership between 24 Hours of Booty and Mount Vernon Presbyterian School demonstrates the joint commitment to impacting the community and encouraging others to be engaged and become compassionate leaders.

In 2012, MVPS heard of 24 Hours of Booty through city councilman, Gabe Sterling. Gabe and other councilmen were instrumental in bringing 24 Hours of Booty to the Sandy Springs community. MVPS is an ideal venue for 24 Hours of Booty as it has become a hub for innovation in Atlanta and is centrally located providing easy access for cyclists from all areas surrounding Atlanta. The partnership between MVPS and 24 Hours of Booty has amplified the school’s emphasis on building engaged citizen leaders.

“We are thrilled to share that one of the most exciting developments of our partnership has led to a stronger connection with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), a large beneficiary of 24 Hours of Booty,” said Allison Toller, chief of brand strategy and partnerships at MVPS. “This school year our fifth graders (80 students) will be working with CHOA through a year-long service project to serve and support the hospital in a variety of ways.”

With 2014 being the third year MVPS is hosting the event, the school has experienced an increase in both awareness and involvement from the community. Aside from serving as a host venue, the middle school will be actively involved in the event. The middle school service club will be volunteering to assist with set up and faculty and staff members will be riding in the event on Team Mustang Strong led by Lisa Hughes.

“The riders and the community building, and knowing that we’re supporting a vital local partner, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta,” explained Miller when asked what Mount Vernon most enjoys about 24 Hours of Booty.

The involvement with 24 Hours of Booty has influenced MVPS to be an advocate for health and wellness. This year, Mount Vernon is partnering with the NFL as part of its Play 60 FitnessGram Project, which encourages children in grades 1 – 8 to participate in 60-minutes of physical activity per day. As one of the 32 schools in the program and the only school selected from Georgia, Mount Vernon will work with Atlanta Falcons players and host player events. Students’ activity levels will be measured and analyzed by the NFL and the Cooper Institute as part of the project.

24 Hours of Booty thanks Mount Vernon Presbyterian School for their beautiful accommodations and continued support!

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Team Mustang Strong Brings Families Together for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

K6CA_24_hours_of_booty_top_storyLisa Hughes has a lot to be proud of. She is a wife, mother and paralegal who lives in Sandy Springs area of Atlanta, Georgia, and completed her first triathlon at the age of 50. She has since become an avid 24 Hours of Booty participant and supporter.

Lisa first learned about 24 Hours of Booty in 2012, when her son’s school, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, was named as the new host venue for the start/finish of the annual charity, non-competitive cycling event. She was intrigued by the name of the event and was looking for something to do in the triathlon “offseason.”

She truly gained interest when she learned that funds from the Atlanta event supported the Aflac Cancer Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), in addition to LIVESTRONG. Lisa had close friends, Lea and Ken Madren, whose son Chip was successfully fighting his own cancer battle at CHOA. The organization, which is a national leader among childhood cancer, hematology, and blood and marrow transplant programs, was very near and dear to her heart. She knew that she had to get involved in the Booty event.

Lisa has taken on the challenge of bringing other parents, students, staff, and administration from Mount Vernon Presbyterian School together and has formed a new team, Team Mustang Strong! The idea for the team name came from the Facebook page dedicated to health and wellness at the school. The team plans to prepare for the event by having organized group rides once or twice a month on the Booty Loop in Sandy Springs.

Lisa is excited about Team Mustang Strong and hopes to see a rider from the group on the course at all times, at least one rider for all 24 hours! But the main goals for Team Mustang Strong are to have fun and raise money for CHOA.

“I don’t think there is one person at this school who has not been impacted by cancer in some way, so it would be very difficult to select just one individual to honor as a team,” Lisa said. “We ride for all those served by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.”

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Neighborhood Residents Motivated to Move from Cheering Zone to Pedal Power for 24 Hours of Booty

In 2014, an estimated 10,450 new cases and 1,350 cancer deaths are expected to occur among children between the ages of birth to 14 years. Advances in treatments for childhood cancer have progressed greatly over the years, and now the five-year benchmark for survival has increased to more than an 80 percent survival rate overall, according to reports by the American Cancer Society. But Cancer is still the second leading cause of death (following accidents) in children between the ages of five to 14 years. Approximately 1 in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer before age 20 years.

Ashley Miller was one of these statistics, back in 1981. Her parents took her to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for successful treatment for Ewings Sarcoma, a bone cancer. Miller is forever thankful to the medical professionals at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for saving her life and giving her a future.   Because of this passion, Miller has supported 24 Hours of Booty of Atlanta, and will ride the event for the first time this year, leading Team Mount Vernon Woods.

“When 24 Hours of Booty moved to the new course in Sandy Springs two years ago, we spearheaded a cheering zone in our yard,” explained Miller, who has been cancer free for 33 years. We had a ‘tailgate’ theme the first year and a ‘Camp Miller’ theme with jump house for the kids last year. We were thrilled to win the Spirit Award in the neighborhood both years. This year, we are starting a team to not just cheer, but ride.”

Miller said the mission to defeat cancer is always a priority. She has a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and a neighbor who has just started his fight with the disease. She hopes to encourage 24 people – family, friends and neighbors in her neighborhood – to join Team Mount Vernon Woods. They won’t have far to travel, as the 2.6-mile bicycle route winds through their neighborhood.

“It’s our favorite weekend of the year in our neighborhood – it’s so fun,” Miller said. “Because of the event we have met a lot of our neighbors. That weekend, you are outside and everyone looks forward to cheering on the riders. 24 hours sounds intimidating, but it is a loop you can do as much as you want. You can be an avid rider, or just borrow a bike. And it raised money for Children’s Healthcare.”

The residents in the Mount Vernon Woods community cheer for the participants both days as they roll through the tree-lined avenues. This year, the Miller family hopes to inspire neighbors to not only have yard parties and cheering zones, but also register to ride and to beat cancer.

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Giving Back to Those Who Gave

Billy Craddock ATLBilly Craddock learned he had cancer on LIVESTRONG Day, October 2, 2008. After undergoing surgery, a friend told Billy about 24 Hours of Booty Atlanta. 24 Hours of Booty was the answer Billy was looking for on how he could help those who helped him through his fight. Billy’s desire to support others has motivated him to continue to ride with 24 Hours of Booty for the past three years.

“I was more than ready to give back to those that helped me through my darkest time,” Billy Craddock said. “I went through many emotions as is normal I guess, and did a lot of research. Part of my research led me to the LIVESTRONG website, where I got personalized and very caring service.

Billy’s involvement has been both heartfelt and light hearted. Last year, he donned a Ralphie costume from “A Christmas Story” when riding, which was well received by other riders. It was hard to miss him on the Booty Loop in his pink bunny suit and thick black-rimmed glasses. His unique riding gear spurred several picture opportunities and murmurs of the well-known phrase from the film, “you’ll put your eye out kid.” Regardless of his attire, Billy has most enjoyed the wonderful people he has met at the event from year to year.

“I cry at each event and realize just how lucky I was compared to others, and I feel a bit more like a complete person knowing that in some small way I have given back and or helped someone else get the same great advise that I did,” Billy said.

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A Reason for Healing

24 HOB 2013Connections – it is what brings people together and creates a sense of community. 24 Hours of Booty is a community of connections that bring people together for a common cause — to fight cancer. Every individual’s reason to join the fight against cancer is different. For Chris Garrett, he wanted to find a way to honor his father’s memory.

“ I first heard about [the event] when Basil left Push America to join 24 Hours of Booty,” Chris Garrett said. “Then in November of 2009 my father Bill lost his battle with cancer, and I was looking for a way to ‘do something’ – to honor him and other family members and friends who had been impacted by the disease.”

Not long after, Chris ran across 24 Hours of Booty again and realized that was it.  It all seemed to come together and make sense for Chris. 24 Hours of Booty was a great event, contributing to a great cause, and it was also coming to Atlanta, a place Bill and Ann had called home for over 40 years.

It has now been five years since his initial ride in the 24 Hours of Booty Atlanta event. Each year has been filled with great times and new memories. Being around others who are just as focused and determined as he is has been very impactful.

“My teammates, the staff, the riders, the survivors – hearing their stories and seeing them out on the bike – everyone there is working towards the same goal, and that’s a great thing,” Chris said.

Through encouragement from friends and family he continues to be involved in giving back to a good cause. This event has been exactly what he needed. It has helped him heal and allowed him to continue to honor his father.

“This may sound strange, but I think 24 Hours of Booty has helped me in my healing process,” Chris said.  “That first year, one of the segments I rode from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. – that time of the night is now one of my favorite times to ride at 24 Hours of Booty.  It is very quiet and peaceful, and it gives me time to think about why I’m there.”

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Passionate Cyclist Inspired to Bridge the Gap & Support Cancer Community in 24 Hours of Booty

Nathan hevesyNathan Hevesy has been involved with 24 Hours of Booty Atlanta for the past four years after making the decision to start cycling in 2009. His passion for cycling was further sparked by his previous employer, Ingersoll Rand, who had a team for many years in the Charlotte event.

“I decided to join [24 Hours of Booty Atlanta] coupling my dad’s previous fight with cancer and my love for cycling,” Nathan said.  “It was an unbelievable event and paved the path for my captaincy in Atlanta for the past four years!”

Nathan is amazed by the perseverance and positive outlooks riders and supporters share about the difficult trials they have experienced in their lives. 24 Hours of Booty has inspired Nathan and his family so much so that it has become an event they look forward to every single year.

“People like my father, Nadine, and others that told stories (and continue to fight) make me go the extra mile,” Nathan said. “I have never battled cancer, but have been around many that have and have lived to tell the tales of the fight.  As a community, we can do so much more to help the people fighting and the cause, and this event is simply a stepping stone to bridge the gap in many peoples’ lives.”

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The Gains of Grassroot Fundraising Events

rsz_ben_parrish_grassrootsEver since his first encounter with 24 Hours of Booty Charlotte in 2009, Ben Parrish has had nothing but a continually great experience each year. As a student at Queens University during that year, he was familiar with the ride and was convinced that he should sign-up to ride. Four years later, he is still going strong. Like many other riders, he had a very personal connection to cancer.

“My father, grandmother and aunt were all impacted at one point or another,” said Ben Parrish, Charlotte rider and Booty Organizing Committee member. “In 2012, I was planning on riding in the memory of a friend and mentor, Mac McInerny, who had lost his battle over the holidays.”

2012 was a pivotal year for Ben after learning his brother Dan had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, which as he described “nearly paralyzed him with concern.” Thankfully for Ben’s brother Dan, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments put him on the road to recovery. Ben’s experience with his brother’s diagnosis made the 2012 24 Hours of Booty that much more special to him as it was an opportunity for him to absorb all that was happening in the cancer community.

“I learned more that year and was able to put so much in context of the larger picture of how 24 Hours of Booty fits into the cancer support community,” Ben said.

After getting a deeper perspective of the mission and vision of 24 Hours of Booty, Ben aspired to better engage his peers about the event, organization and its financial purpose. This desire incited him to begin organizing grassroots events to fundraise for and spread the word about 24 Hours of Booty.

“It is amazing to me that for as many years as 24 Hours of Booty has been around, that there are people in Charlotte who still are not aware of it,” Ben said. “It is getting to share the origin story of the ride all the way through to the great work being done at the Levine Cancer Institute. With my wife Laney’s support, we have done several events in support of Booty.”

Fortunately, they have been able to combine their love for baking and cooking BBQ to create many successful grassroots events. Each event has been a success and helped tremendously with Ben’s individual fundraising. In the process, Ben has also been able to recruit new riders who are also highly dedicated to raising money and giving back to a good cause.

“The most rewarding aspect is having people tell me how they have become engaged after an event that we host,” Ben said.  “Whether they have told friends who later signed up to ride, or that they know where they can start in helping their friends and family after a cancer diagnosis. One of the most amazing aspect of 24 Hours of Booty to me is the support network of riders, friends and family that it creates amongst all the people involved, not just those riding.”

Ben’s grassroots fundraising events proved to be very successful and earned him a spot as a top fundraiser and yellow jersey recipient in Charlotte. You too can gain success from grassroots fundraising events. 24 Hours of Booty Atlanta is just two weeks away, that means it’s time to ramp up your fundraising efforts! Check out fundraising event ideas here — there is sure to be an event that peaks your interest. Have ideas you’d like to bounce off someone else? Need help implementing? Contact us at info@24hoursofbooty.org or call us at 877-365-4117.

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