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2013 Go with Cigna Contest Winner: Gary’s Road to Health in Honor of Jim Baginski

Gary WootenAs a proud sponsor of 24 Hours of Booty, Cigna hosts the Go with Cigna contest each year, where they urge riders to share how participating with 24 Hours of Booty have helped them reach a health or wellness goal. Last year’s winner was Charlotte rider, Gary Wooten.

At 27 years old Gary was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a disorder that affects motor skills. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but there are medications, surgery and multidisciplinary management that can offer relief from symptoms. Five years after the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, Gary was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Fighting both disorders throughout his life has not been easy, but Gary has stayed positive. This year in April Gary turned 60 years old and is a proud fighter and survivor of Parkinson’s disease and cancer.

In 2006, Gary underwent one of his treatments for Parkinson’s disease, a brain surgery to install a deep brain stimulator (DBS). The procedure is common in patients with Parkinson’s disease, as it can deactivate parts of the brain that cause the disease and associated symptoms without damaging the brain. The day before the surgery, Gary got a call from his sister Connie, announcing that his brother-in-law Jim had lost his life to renal carcinoma.

“I immediately told her [Connie] I would postpone my surgery,” said Gary Wooten, Charlotte rider. “But Connie and Jim had discussed this possibility, and Jim had told Connie that he wanted me to go ahead with the surgery no matter what happened. Jim was an engineer by training and had been fascinated with the DBS procedure and was persistent that I needed to get it done.”

The results of the surgery were dramatic for Gary. As with many other patients, the surgery provides relief from a full range of the disease’s symptoms, such as walking difficulty, stiffness, rigidity and slowness of movement.

As a way of honoring Jim, Jim’s friends, who were Charlotte residents created the Baginski team and participated in 24 Hours of Booty. Gary joined the team shortly after it was created and has rode in the memory of his brother-in-law ever since.

“Cycling is one of the best ways for me to manage Parkinson’s disease,” Gary said. “My participation in 24 Hours of Booty has reaffirmed my enjoyment of cycling. I have Jim to thank for achieving this health goal.”

This year Gary is looking forward to riding close to his goal of 25 miles, seeing old friends and meeting the people involved with 24 Hours of Booty. Most of all, Gary is happy that he is even able to participate to honor his brother-in-law Jim.

“Every year when I ride that first lap I can’t help but to think of Jim,” Gary said. “He would have participated in this event right of the bat for anyone.”

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Bryan is your + one

Bryan Shields & + one storyOn February 26, 2007, Bryan Shield’s life was changed forever. After multiple visits to the doctor due to weight loss and extreme fatigue in the past couple of months, the doctor found a nine centimeter tumor above Bryan’s left lung and a small cyst on his kidney. Bryan was diagnosed with stage two of an aggressive form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. For the next couple of months Bryan underwent six cycles of chemotherapy and localized radiation.

“The cycles were a mixed bag of nausea, cravings, steroid swelling, vomiting, crying, raging, sleeping, insomnia and loving,” said Bryan Shields, veteran 24 Hours of Booty Charlotte rider. “Loving both the life I now knew was temporal and the people that had chosen to share it with me.

After completing four and a half months of chemotherapy, Bryan and his wife had their first encounter with 24 Hours of Booty as they came out to Myers Park in Charlotte to cheer on the riders. At this point Bryan was struggling just walking the three mile loop and felt frustrated that he wasn’t able to ride. Thus, he vowed he would be back a year later and ride. 24 Hours of Booty 2008 started off with the “Survivor Lap” – honoring everyone that has battled or is battling cancer. The lap changed Bryan’s perspective of how he saw survivorship.

“Survivorship was not about me, it was not singular – it was about the relationships,” Bryan said. “Survivorship was never feeling alone. So after riding 200 miles, sharing laughs and tears, Jen [Bryan’s wife]and I decided to start + one. Its motivation comes from all of you – it’s past, present and future thank you for being there and a reminder that you are never alone.”

+ One is a team that according to Bryan is set up to grow organically. Increasing the number of riders is not something they crave; instead they want to make relational connections with their members. Bryan enjoys getting to know all the team members and welcomes anyone to join his team.

“Relational growth allows us to be there for each other during the other times of the year, providing that + one bump whenever and wherever it is needed,” Bryan said. “So our number of riders may raise or shrink slightly, but our mission is to grow closer.”

Even though + one is not focusing on expansion per se, they have been able to branch out with members in the other 24 Hours of Booty cities. With teammates riding in Indianapolis and Atlanta, it is important for Bryan to support his teammates in their pursuit of any and all relational endeavors that promote hope and healing.

“My good friend and teammate Jessica Hindman put it best – the end of July is crescendo of a large emotional wave for many of us and we, as a team, friends and family truly need time to recharge,” Bryan said. “That being said, the endurance side of the challenge really excites a group of our teammates, so we’ll probably find ourselves riding in events outside Charlotte. And this year, Matt Parker is the photographer for all four events, which is something that we as a team want to support him in.”

Throughout the year + one runs two to three team prime events to get the fundraising of the team members going. Through a generous anonymous benefactor, + one is able to use the funds to reward members that raise the most over a week’s time.

“It’s fun because the $250 reward raises at least four times that amount for the team,” Bryan said. “It’s a win-win situation in our book. We have found that keeping the events short allows for more members to participate – getting after a one week push regardless of the disparities between their teammates’ overall fundraising goals.”

+ One has also developed their own team fundraising events that have become traditions. The first official fundraising event happened in the spring of 2012 – a Yard Sale. The event required a lot of work, but all the members loved that it had brought them all together. The success of the Yard Sale brought + one to the conclusion that they were going to put together both a local and virtual Bake Sale.

“It essentially became a way to engage the folks on a causal Saturday morning walk and have a block party with our friends,” Bryan said.

While the Bake Sale has become + one’s favorite event among Charlotte teammates, their Bike Raffle event, put together by + one team member, Matt Parker, is definitely their most popular. To this date, the Bike Raffle 2014 event has raised close to $6,000. + One is well on their way of reaching their fundraising goal of $35,000 for the Charlotte event next week.

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Successful 2nd Annual Bowling for Booty in the Books!

Bowling for Booty

Thank you to Carly Mechtly, team captain for The Levine Cancer Institute for organizing and hosting a successful second annual Bowling for Booty at 10 Park Lanes. The evening featured a night of free bowling, BBQ, and beer of which all ticket proceeds benefitted 24 Hours of Booty. This has become a yearly staple event and we look forward to more. 24 Hours of Booty is thankful for the support and partnership with The Levine Cancer Institute!

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24 Hours of Booty Fosters New Sponsorship Partnership

Each year, 24 Hours of Booty continues to add members to the booty family, make new memories and raise more funds for our local beneficiaries in each city, and this year Cameron M. Harris & Company, LLC is an integral part of the relationships and resources forged.

This year, Cameron M. Harris and 24 Hours of Booty have entered into a sponsorship partnership. Cameron M. Harris & Company, LCC is a recognizable, longstanding insurance agency that has been in operation in Charlotte since 1979. The agency has strong ties to the Myers Park neighborhood – home to 24 Hours of Booty – with owners, employees and clients residing in the area, making it fitting that the agency and 24 Hours of Booty partner together to fight a greater cause and put cancer in its place. Cameron Harris Agency hopes that their partnership with 24 Hours of Booty will enhance public perception of the agency and open the agency to a niche market that they can engage with through brochures listing services provided and giving away promotional items.

“Several members of our organization have been personally affected by cancer within the past year or through a family member, and would like to show the community our commitment to fighting this disease,” said Laura Bittner, Personal Lines Consultant for Cameron M. Harris Agency. “We are hopeful [24 Hours of Booty] will have a positive impact on the community’s perception of our agency and strengthen our brand.”

Cameron M. Harris Agency hopes that 24 Hours of Booty will be an event that employees will participate in and foster a sense of community within the organization. Visit Cameron M. Harris Agency in the expo area of Bootyville on July 25 and 26 for brochures featuring provided services and promotional giveaway items, such as Frisbees, logo water bottles and calendars. Stop by their tent in Bootyville to get more information!

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There is Beauty in Just Going – A Wind River Wellness Retreat Memoir by Allison Schwartz

Allison Peeler Schwartz, 2014 retreat participant, graciously shared her experience with Wind River, a partner of 24 Hours of Booty who helps relieve emotional stress and improve the quality of life of cancer survivors through wellness retreats.

Schwartz Wind River

There is beauty in just going.

Cancer changed everything. It made me stronger. It made me less afraid of so many things; so when I found Wind River on the internet and connected with Shannon late last year – a beautiful relationship began.

I applied for the April 2014 retreat and by the grace of God things worked out and I flew to North Carolina from Texas for the most profound weekend of my life. Cancer has a way of doing that – changing you in ways you’d never expect. Cancer introduces you to the MOST amazing people ever. Period.  The week before I left Dallas so many people asked: “Where are you going?” “Who will be there?” What will you do?” My answer to all questions: “I don’t know.”  I went with my gut on this one, trusted completely and WOW.

Weeks later and I’m still processing my weekend. What I know for sure is I fell in love with 15 people, two cats and an amazing “cabin” in the woods. Some are survivors and some are healers. They are all real, beautiful and full of life. They changed my life for the better. They surrounded me with love and respect and helped keep me whole. We laughed. We cried. We laughed some more. We had new experiences. We shared our most personal stuff – the kind of stuff that needs complete trust and love in order to share. These folks are real. These folks have experienced pain. These folks are dealing with cancer with the utmost grace and humility. These folks truly realize the beauty in everything life offers. These folks are butterflies and fairies that bring peace and love to everyone. These folks I’m talking about? My Wind River peeps. My posse. My “deuces”. My loves.

Wind River is a place to heal. It’s a place to grow. It’s a place to laugh. It’s a place to cry. It’s a place to learn new things. It’s more than a place, really. Wind River is a state of being. Wind River scoops you up and allows you to float freely while receiving love and peace.

A simple email asking to be added to the Wind River mailing list blossomed into a relationship with Shannon, Dave and the Wind River community. What does the Wind River community mean to me? It means love, understanding, peace, freedom and hope.  My life is taking a different path. I’m changed forever. I took a leap of faith. I trusted. I went.

There is beauty in just going.

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Ian’s Perfect Match

IanHartnerAs a first year rider, Ian Hartner is very excited about the upcoming 24 Hours of Booty event in Charlotte. After overcoming his own battle with cancer after being diagnosed at only six months old, he wants to give back to others in any way possible.

“The doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia kept me going until the age of two when I was old enough to have a bone marrow transplant, a total body radiation and chemotherapy,” Ian Hartner said. “I was incredibly lucky to have a sister who was a perfect bone marrow match.”

Studies have shown that 70% of patients who need a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family. It was amazing that Ian’s sister turned out to be a perfect match.

“My sister was five years old at the time, so the doctors took special time to explain to my sister, Annemarie, what was going to happen,” Ian said. “They told her they were taking some of her ‘good seeds’ and giving them to me so I could get better.”

The bone marrow transplant has been a life changing experience that has impacted Ian’s life in many ways. Although he has faced other challenges over the years, such as bowed legs corrected through surgery, diabetes and even brain and spinal tumors leaving significantly decreased function on his right side, he has continued to fight and push forward.

“Throughout all of this it has always been my hope that those who came after me would be able to benefit from advances in research and the new development of new drugs and treatments,” Ian said.

With the brave help from his sister he has been able to live a productive life. Bone marrow donors help change the lives of people world wide each day.

“My sister and I share a bond that few people share,” Ian said. “She saved my life and I can’t ever repay her for that.”

This year Ian has a personal mileage goal of 50 miles. As a first time rider, he is very enthusiastic about the many things that will help benefit a great cause.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge and I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to organizations who are working to find cures for many of the diseases that affect so many of us,” Ian said. “This year I am riding for family and friends lost and especially for those starting treatment and looking for options.”

Interested in being a bone marrow donor? Be The Match, a non-profit organization that manages the largest bone marrow registry in the world will be onsite at all of our events this year. Riders will have the opportunity to register free of charge to become a cure for patients in need. A patient’s likelihood of finding a donor with Be the Match ranges from 76 percent to 97 percent depending on race and ethnicity. Let’s fight cancer together!

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24 Hours of Booty Grand Tour in Gilligan’s Island Style

Stephen RiderLast year, Stephen Rider rode the 24 Hours of Booty Grand Tour together with Tom Conrady and Vaughn Arthur in celebration of his friend Vaughn’s 25th anniversary of kicking cancer to the curb. Vaughn challenged his donors to help him reach his fundraising goal of $2,500 by saying he would dress up as Ginger from Gilligan’s Island. Stephen and Tom agreed to help by dressing up as Mary Ann and Mrs. Howell for the Atlanta event, if Vaughn reached his goal.

Stephen became involved with 24 Hours of Booty after learning about Team Collin on a bike related forum called the Lounge.

“There were a bunch of quirky, humorous people in there and one of the primary posts referred to Team Collin,” Stephen Rider said. “It turned out that Collin was a little baby boy of one of the members of the Lounge. He posted about his family’s ordeal and specifically Collin’s fight against cancer. I found the original thread and all of the posts. I cried when I read that Collin had lost his battle at the age of two.”

After learning about Collin’s fight against cancer Stephen asked to become a member of Team Collin at 24 Hours of Booty Indianapolis in 2012. This year Stephen is riding for one of his closest supporters, who is currently going through chemotherapy for stage three ovarian cancer. Prior to being diagnosed, Stephen’s friend donated her kidney selflessly to a neighbor in need, which has caused her chemotherapy recovery time to lengthen.

“I have had several friends and family members struggle with cancer, some winning their fight and some not,” Stephen said. “Her fight is a hard one to see, it just breaks my heart because she gave so much of herself. 24 Hours of Booty has made me much more aware of the importance of people who are going through cancer.”

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Unicycle Dave

Dave TurpinDave Turpin is known famously by 24 Hours of Booty friends and family as the man on the unicycle, which he rode at last year’s event in Charlotte.

“I’m just another nut-case buzzing around on a wheel,” Dave said.

24 Hours of Booty is an event that according to Dave is predicated by camaraderie. The first time Dave rode with 24 Hours of Booty was in 2009 on a mountain bike completely solo. The experience did not give him the bug until he decided to put together a small team of coworkers a couple of years later.

“Today I ride weekly with a friend as we train for the next 24 Hours of Booty event,” Dave said. “In a way, 24 Hours of Booty is an excuse to stay fit. The event itself is safe, well organized and the cause is never lost in the confusion of the event itself.”

Through 24 Hours of Booty Dave has met and learned of many families and individuals who are dealing with life threatening illness.

“The net effect is to make me conscientiously note that our time in this world may be shorter than we planned,” Dave said. “None of us know when we will be called up to the challenge of a life threatening disease. 24 Hours of Booty provides a platform for us to recognize our own mortality.”

To date, Dave has participated in five 24 Hours of Booty events, three in Charlotte and two in Atlanta. He is currently training to ride in the two events this year again. Why does Dave ride?

“At my age, because I can,” Dave said.

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Klipsch Rider Kicks Cancer!

Paula KlipschPaula Klipsch is a two-time thyroid cancer survivor and is celebrating three years being cancer free since her second bout with the disease. At the age of 41, Paula was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma and it returned five years later. Being cancer free has made Paula appreciate everything that life has to offer.

“I will tell you that when you wake up every morning, the thought that my cancer can return is not far from my thoughts,” said Paula Klipsch, 24 Hours of Booty Indianapolis rider and Team Klipsch member. “My faith has been an enormous comfort, but I also have a great support group around me so I’ve decided to channel a little of my anxiety into something positive by giving back to other cancer patients and their families.”

Paula is a member of the American Cancer Society’s Ladies Guilt (ACS) and chairman of the Discovery Ball for 2014, which is the ACS’s big, formal fundraiser. Last year Paula’s husband Mike got her involved with 24 Hours of Booty for the first time. Mike had done the ride together with his coworkers at Klipsch Audio a couple of times and to Paula it sounded like an incredible amount of fun.

“The ride is a great way for me to pay it forward in some way to help someone else survive their cancer diagnosis,” Paula said. “Being a survivor and helping to raise money for cancer research is important at every level. I’m alive because of advanced research, in just five short years, that has been funded by events like [24 Hours of Booty]. It also helps me to send a message to other to not give up hope. If I can beat cancer, so can you!”

To prepare for 24 Hours of Booty, the coworkers at Klipsch Audio usually get together on nice sunny days during the warm months of the year and ride together. Many people at the office have become involved and participated in other charity rides together, such as Ride Across Indiana (RAIN). The cancer in some form has victimized many of the employees; fundraising for rides like 24 Hours of Booty has become a “no brainer”.

“It makes me so proud to be a part of the Klipsch Audio family that feels the same way I do about cancer,” Paula said. “We hate it and want to raise money to someday defeat this disease so that no one else will ever lose another family member again.”

Paula is looking forward to seeing all the Klipsch Audio employees come together for another 24 Hours of Booty as a family, not an office gathering, but for a long day and night of fun.

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Clear Channel Radio Spreads the Word About 24 Hours of Booty

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 1.27.10 PMClear Channel Radio, 24 Hours of Booty sponsor, has graciously promoted 24 Hours of Booty on air and live at the Indianapolis event for that past few years. 24 Hours of Booty is proud to have Clear Channel Radio as a sponsor who has joined in the fight to spread the word to put cancer in its place!

“For many of us, our lives have been touched peripherally by cancer, we all know of a loved one or friend that has had to battle some form of this dreadful disease,” said Jay Baker, On-Air host from Clear Channel Radio. “Any event that highlights and raises money for the cause is very worthwhile.”

Founded in 1972, Clear Channel has become one of the world’s largest media and entertainment companies, managing two main media businesses – Outdoor Holdings and Media and Entertainment. With 245 million monthly listeners in the U.S., Clear Channel media and entertainment has the largest reach of any radio and television outlet in America. The outdoor advertising business operates close to one million displays in 45 countries and continues to expand.

“As we all face trying to bring more health and wellness into our lives, we want to find some good sustainable forms of exercise,” Jay said. “For those of us from Clear Channel Radio, we have had a long association with cycling. Through the years we have had cyclists who just pedal the park with their kids as an outlet and family time, and those of us who have set some serious cycling goals and have competed at bike events through the Midwest.”

Clear Channel’s mission is to stimulate local radio and outdoor resources to encourage and educate people to make a difference within their own communities. 24 Hours of Booty is one of the many local and national nonprofit organizations that Clear Channel radio stations and Outdoor regions work together to spotlight.

“I have been impressed by the organization of [24 Hours of Booty] and I have urged my cycling friends to participate,” Jay said. “Thanks for all that you do and making Indianapolis one of the stops in this important series.”

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