Chris Fernandez, veteran 24 Foundation rider, volunteer and organizing committee member, has been involved with the organization since its humble beginnings. Fernandez’s involvement for several years has allowed him to fulfill many capacities and see the event from a multitude of perspectives.
Fernandez went from actively organizing and riding in 24 Foundation in the first few years since the launch of the event to in 2009 making simply riding a lap of the Booty Loop a major goal of his. In the summer of 2008, Chris learned he had a vestibular brain tumor and underwent surgery, which left him with double vision and unable to drive. As part of his recovery, Chris made it his personal physical therapy goal to participate and ride in 24 Foundation as he had done in years past, except this time it would be on the back of a tandem bike.
Chris’ recovery gave his wife Beth a new perspective of the event from a survivor’s point of view as to just how challenging the event can be from merely getting there to putting in miles on the loop. Beth’s experience alongside her husband as he fought cancer inspired her to become more involved in 24 Foundation by volunteering.
“I came at it from a perspective of a survivor’s wife, who had to go through the difficulty of just getting him there [to the event],” Beth said. “I wanted to make the event more family oriented, kid friendly and more access[ible] for survivors.”
Beth has volunteered in a variety of capacities, but has spent much of her time and focus on the Kids Zone and Haven of Hope, a place for kids to just be kids and a place for survivors to be remembered and honored. 24 Foundation has truly become a Fernandez family affair. Each year, Chris’s dad comes up from Tampa Florida to ride alongside his son. In addition, Chris’ two sons and daughter are actively involved in the event with volunteering and each year they ride the survivor lap with their dad.
“24 Foundation is our one annual family event,” Beth said. “Just like people go to the beach, we do Booty.”
24 Foundation has brought the Fernandez family closer together. With three kids of varying ages and activities, their life goes in many different directions. The Fernandez family have come to appreciate the time they get to spend each year with other survivors, caregivers and families of loved ones who are no longer with them.
“[24 Foundation] is the time each year that we put our lives and activities aside and work together for something larger than us,” Beth said. “For one weekend, we all go in the same direction for the same cause. We remember why we are thankful. We are all survivors, and together with the volunteers, staff and other riders, we have become a large extended family.”