Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rising to the Challenge

photo credit: Daniel Elavsky

What an OUTSTANDING feeling!!

I am still overwhelmed with the phenomenal community response to the inaugural Rollin' for Charity Indoor 100 Bike Race.

As I reflect on the weekend, support can be seen in so many ways.

The estimated 300 people who came into the Alpine Shop as Chris Ploch and I knocked out 100 miles on the rollers in just over four hours created a growing smile that fueled my efforts.

The $1008 that I collected through in-store donations -- mostly in small dollar amounts -- and the $860 I fundraised through online efforts was the result of the generosity of family, friends and strangers. This generosity allowed me to donate $1968, nearly TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS, on behalf of Team Vera Bradley Foundation to the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer. Applause all around to Chris, my competitor, for raising $2005 for the ALS Foundation St. Louis Regional Chapter within the same time frame.

The unconditional support by the sponsors of Team Vera Bradley Foundation, who quickly rallied to back my efforts, helped me harness my enthusiasm to accomplish this goal. Specialized shipped me my 100-mile dream ride -- the Specialized Amira S-Works -- and clothing to match to ensure that I was armed for success. Kinetics supplied us with trainers for those who wanted to ride alongside me on this adventure. Vibram gave me a pair of FiveFingers to wear and donated an additional pair to be included in a raffle to donors of either charity.

The local eateries didn't bat an eye when asked to donate food for the event. Einstein Bagels gave us enough bagels for everyone and Subway provided a party platter of small subs for the cyclists to eat. 2 hours in, those sandwiches rocked!

Other powerful ways I measure the support of this event...

My employer, the Alpine Shop, was a driving force behind the day. They provided staff, space, supplies, music, great energy AND a cash prize. This event would not have been possible without them.

The members of Team Revolution -- the club I co-founded to provide support to other female cyclists -- demonstrated once again that you get what you give as they showed up to cheer and roll along besides me. I am so grateful for the varied ways in which Team Revolution continues to provide me with support.

Illustrator/Designer Chris Roettger has an uncanny ability to translate a concept into a design while under tight deadline. The thermometers she drew, bright and early Saturday morning, assured that spectators had a visual to measure the funds raised and miles covered.

Most importantly, my team and my director displayed faith in my abilities to successfully launch Team Vera Bradley Foundation's fundraising efforts and win the race.

And while I did "win" the 100 mile bike race, I am not the real winner here. This day's race begins with hope and courage -- and the true battle we wage is against breast cancer each and every day.

On Saturday, I rode to raise funds for breast cancer research. I rode for the survivors and for those that courageously fought but are no longer with us. I rode because I am inspired by their courage and commitment. I rode to be their voice. I rode to be their cheer of victory. I rode for those who are still struggling now. And while I was the rider, it was the collective community that showed up to demonstrate that this struggle does not go unnoticed.

I challenged you to invest with me in a future without breast cancer. I never expected so many of you to rise to the challenge.

Thank you.

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