David Mathews is all about going the extra mile in life. And to stop cancer, he goes many extra miles.
Thousands of people know Dave in Georgia for his skills on the tennis court. He is an 11-time United States Tennis Association National Champion. He is the owner and operator of the David Mathews Tennis Academy in Atlanta. In addition to sponsoring or volunteering for youth programs near his home in Decatur, Ga., he serves as the Director of the YMCA Tennis Georgia Program, which exposes nearly 10,000 children each summer to the sport of tennis.
In 2010 this hard court pro changed gears. He heard that a parent of one of his tennis students was diagnosed with cancer. This hit home for Dave, as his father had battled through colon cancer. So he decided to ride his road bicycle to make a difference. He and his family drove 800 miles in 12 hours to Philadelphia to participate in the Team LIVESTRONG Challenge Series, a century bike ride that is a signature fundraising event for LIVESTRONG, to help make a difference. After the 800-mile return trip to Atlanta, he heard about 24 Hours of Booty making its debut at Stone Mountain Park the next month…so he signed up immediately and raised $1,500 in four weeks!
“Why did I drive all the way to Philadelphia when I could have just stayed here (in Atlanta) for 24 Hours of Booty? Well, I didn’t hear about the event at Stone Mountain Park until I got back. Philly was great. And I was able to raise money for LIVESTRONG for each event and that means a lot. Plus the 24 Hours of Booty event helps Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. It really doesn’t mean anything – all the driving to Philly, the bike riding, the fundraising – it’s nothing compared to what cancer patients have to go through,” Dave said.
Dave was hooked on 24 Hours of Booty after that first experience at Stone Mountain Park in October 2010. The next year he formed “Team Raisin’Ridin’” by recruiting friends Dan Meyer and Beth Costello, both from Decatur, Ga. This small team did big things – they raised over $5,000 and rode a combined 550 miles in 2011 at 24 Hours of Booty of Atlanta!
Teammate Dan said the fundraising part of the event was easier than he expected because of the generosity of friends and coworkers. He utilized the generous matching gifts program at his employer, RLI Insurance Company, and encouraged all Booty participants to remind their contributors to explore all options for matching funds. And his family provided a great deal of support with both his training and fundraising. They made home-made jewelry and bookmarks and sold them to help raise money.
“So many family members and friends have been affected by cancer that when Dave told me about the ride there was no question that I wanted to do it,” Dan added. “Of course, our team captain, Dave Mathews, was our driving force. He kept us motivated to train and raise funds. We put in thousands of miles together over the course of the year training with the goal of riding 300 miles in 24 hours. I did complete 218.5 miles. Not bad for my first 24 hour cycling event.
“The event itself was amazing! So many people riding their hearts out to get up those hills, to complete another lap to raise funds and awareness. “
For 2012, Team Raisin’Ridin’ hopes to have 15 people on its squad. Dave is targeting to ride 300 miles at the event. “I’ve met a lot of good friends through this event. We promised our donors that we would put up the sweat for their donations,” said Mathews.”And together we’ve gotta slow down or stop cancer. We can’t stop trying.”