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Seven Years of Service – Thank You Annie Ray

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24 Hours of Booty has been home to Annie (Jackson) Ray in more ways than one. Annie has had close ties to the organization, as her older brother and cousin participated annually in the Charlotte event and former executive director, Patti Weiss is a longtime family friend. This relationship springboarded Annie’s involvement as the first intern of 24 Hours of Booty in May 2008 , which led to her quickly taking on the full time role as Office Manager in July of that same year.

“Ultimately I decided to end my beach life early and take the job,” said Annie Ray. “I had enjoyed being a part of the working world, loved the environment, the people and the mission to serve the cancer community.”

Annie has taken on a variety of roles at 24 Hours of Booty including bookkeeping, community event organizing, gift processing on every level, volunteer and intern management, customer service, technical support, fundraising, and serving as the organization’s main point of contact and liaison. 24 Hours of Booty formed nearly her entire professional background and through serving in a multitude of roles Annie has taken away valuable lessons both personally and professionally. Each role has allowed her to approach problem solving in different ways. While personally, the organization has taught her the importance of being compassionate in all aspects of life.

“Cancer affects everyone and I’ve met people living with stage four cancer, people who have lost children, spouse’s, parents and friends,” Annie said.  “Most often I’ve found that their hardships have led them to have an incredible view of life’s precious timeline. These individuals often seem to be masters of how and where to effectively draw strength — spiritually or from the world and people around them.”

In addition to the passion she’s found, Annie has formed “amazing” relationships as she refers to them over the last seven years that have further fueled her love for the organization. She first forged these relationships as an intern, where her first assignment was to research participant testimonials. This initial assignment taught her how to communicate with different people — participants, donors, sponsors, committee  and board members — that share the vision & mission of 24 Hours of Booty. The passion and the people are what Annie says she will miss most about working with the organization.

“The people – it’s such a strong community of individuals working towards the same goal,” Annie said. “I will miss the rush of event season. It was always the craziest and most fun time of year. Everyone involved around that time is full of passion, whether it’s in terms of fundraising, training and mileage goals or checking off to-do lists for community events.”

Little did Annie know that 24 Hours of Booty would not only provide her a professional foundation through serving in a variety of roles and seeing different leadership changes, but would be the connection that formed her family.

“When I met Basil Lyberg I knew we were in for a fun, hard-working environment,” Annie said. “What I did not know was that he did match-making work on the side.”

While working an event, Annie was introduced to a special invitee, her future husband. Annie and her husband Erick live locally in Charlotte with their three-year-old daughter Maddie. After seven years of dedicated service and being the “go-to” girl for 24 Hours of Booty staff, riders, donors and volunteers, Annie is leaving to welcome her second child any day now with her husband.

“24 Hours of Booty has has left me with amazing memories, inspiring stories of life’s struggles and survivorship, wonderful friendships, a variety of professional experiences and a husband and family to boot!” Annie said.  “As I am days away from welcoming our second child into the world, I am so thankful for the all the ways 24 Hours of Booty has impacted my life and my family, but am most proud of all the ways I’ve been witness to the impact that 24 Hours of Booty has had on the lives of those we serve in the cancer community.”

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The staff at 24 Hours of Booty would like to thank Annie for her ceaseless willingness to pick up any task, help find a solution for anyone with a question, and more importantly for bringing a positive spirit and joy to the organization.

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You Don’t Choose, You Just Become: Wife Turned Caregiver

Debbie & BrianNovember is National Family Caregivers’ month, a month dedicated to focusing on the emotional, personal and financial challenges caregivers face whether they provide assistance to a loved one for a few years or for a  lifetime. Debbie Hevesy, 24 Hours of Booty Atlanta rider and former caregiver to her husband Brian, knows all too well the fears and anxieties associated with taking on a responsibility that one does not necessarily choose, but is chosen for them.

“You don’t choose to become a caregiver, you just become one,” said Debbie Hevesy.  “[Cancer] is a scary diagnosis, one filled with uncertainty and fear for the future. Initially, I felt afraid because I was worried about the fatality – I felt that I didn’t want to lose Brian, and I didn’t want him to miss the milestones of the future – the boys graduating from college, getting married, having children, retirement, etc.”

Wife turned caregiver, Debbie followed her husband Brian’s lead by maintaining some sense of normalcy in their lives. Debbie and Brian had two children in college and one child in high school when Brian was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. While his children were in school, Brian worked through his months of treatment. Both Debbie and Brian told their boys as much as they wanted to hear and always told them the truth as they knew it.

The caregiver role changed for Debbie once Brian was admitted to the hospital for 30 days to undergo a stem cell transplant in hopes of eradicating his cancer. Brian’s release from the hospital was the most difficult time for Debbie as a caregiver as she found it challenging to find foods and drinks that agreed with Brian’s palette.

“He would say,“I would like some of that iced tea in the bottle”, so I would buy it, and it would not taste good. Or applesauce, or grape juice, or punch, or pudding, or even water!  – some bottled water can taste very metallic to chemo patients” Debbie said.

The trial and error of knowing what would be tolerable to her husband was very frustrating, but for Debbie it was well worth it.

“Overall, the most rewarding aspect was that Brian was a good patient and whatever I did was enough and was appreciated,” Debbie said. “And most times that was just being there, and knowing that everything was going along fairly normally with the family.”

For others assuming the role of caregiver, Debbie advises to know your patient and to know how far you can go with him or her. Do not smother them, but make the experience as easy as possible for them. Lastly, use available resources from the hospital and organizations, such as LIVESTRONG and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).

“Just be there,” Debbie said. “Go to the doctor appointments because two ears are better than one, take notes or talk to someone who has been through the journey. I would say that it is hard to watch your loved one go through the treatment of cancer and the recovery, but keeping positive and keeping things normal worked for our family, and it still does. We have been very fortunate – Brian has seen most of those milestones I feared he would miss, and more!”

Celebrate caregivers this month:

1. Take over for a few hours – give a family caregiver a few hours away with friends or time alone so they can simply relax.

2. Brighten a family caregiver’s day – send a card or flower bouquet of appreciation.

3. Let a caregiving family in your community relax & enjoy the holiday – offer to prepare or help cook a Thanksgiving dinner.

4. Connect a family caregiver with support and educational materials via the Caregivers Action Network.

5. Let us know how we can help support you. Contact us!


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24 Days of Thanks

It’s the season for giving and 24 Hours of Booty would like to give our gratitude to the well deserved groups and individuals we have had the pleasure of meeting and working with over the years from beneficiaries and sponsors to riders, volunteers and booty crew members.

We are a community united by a common goal – to fight cancer. We could not make an impact without you. We are all 24 Hours of Booty. For the month of November, we would like to extend our thanks to all of those who have put in their time, effort and resources to help a cause greater than ourselves.

Thank you! Check the images below for a few of the many people we are thankful for and feel free to share these images with your friends!

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Vote for 24 Hours of Booty in SOCIETY Charlotte’s Best of Philanthropy 2014 Survey!

survey-banner-bopIt’s that time again to show some more love to 24 Hours of Booty! SOCIETY Charlotte has opened its Best of Philanthropy 2014 survey that highlights nonprofit event receive extra attention they deserve.

SOCIETY Charlotte is a free monthly magazine that publishes informative and exciting photos and articles about philanthropic organizations and events in the community. Survey categories include:


  • Best Luncheon
  • Best Party
  • Best Themed Event
  • Best Social Media Presence
  • Best Volunteers
  • Best Young Professionals Party
  • Best Family-Friendly Event
  • Best Pet-Friendly Event

Vote for 24 Hours of Booty for Best Social Media Presence, Best Volunteers, and Best Family-Friend Event! If you do not know of an event for the other categories please put N/A. Voting starts now and is open until Monday, December 1, 2014. SOCIETY Charlotte will profile the winners in their January issue.

Show us some love here

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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

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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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