A common trend with 24 Foundation is that once a person gets involved one time, they seem to become an integrative part of its created community and keep returning to the events for years to come. This can happen in the growth from patient to participant, volunteer to team captain, or fundraiser to board member. One of these latter examples is personified in Bryan McMillan, who first saw a flier at a local bike shop in 2008 and now serves on both the Board of Managers and Board of Directors. Bryan signed up for what was then 24 Hours of Booty that same year that he saw the flier, creating a team with a friend, in honor of his mother, a cancer survivor, and the team has grown every year since. Their team name has gone through various changes, starting as the Middle Aged Marauders, evolving to Team Krazed, and now riding as Team bootySTRONG at the 24 Baltimore event.
Bryan attributes the team’s growth to the relaxed atmosphere they have created around it, stating, “The team grew quickly as we were very chill about the atmosphere of our tents and our training rides. Several local businesses really understood what we were trying to do and became team sponsors, allowing the recruiting member to add the sponsor funds to their fundraising tally, [and rewarding] those that made the important connections.” Bryan said that apart from the help of their sponsors, the vast majority of their fundraising efforts are done through social media and targeted emails to previous donors, using personalized messages. “In the past we have held a garage sale, restaurant nights, and a backyard BBQ and concert. As each rider’s life has gotten busier we have not done as many fundraising events, instead relying heavily on individual fundraising.”
Now a veteran participant, Bryan said that this year he is excited about bringing the event to a new location. “As we are at a new venue this year, it will undoubtedly be a little chaotic but in a fun way. It will be great to reconnect with so many folks that we only see at the event each year. Despite being such a large team (over 100 members!), we all share the common drive to make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer.” One thing that will remain, despite the change in location, is the team campsite. “We have about five or six 10×10 pop-up tents and we bring our own bike racks, given the number of riders we have. Team members sign up to volunteer for set-up or tear-down and we could not make it all work without everyone’s terrific support.” When the riders are not hanging out at their campsite, they are out riding as much or as little as matches their own desires. The only team requirements when it comes to mileage is to be there for the first loop, to ride as a team, and to finish off the 24 hours together, clad in their matching team jerseys.
The large, and still growing, team of bootySTRONG, is a ‘strong’ example of the way that 24 Foundation events create such a strong sense of community. From Bryan’s standpoint, “24 Foundation has, as 24 Hours of Booty, been a vehicle to bring together folks who are all committed to a single objective — to make a difference to those folks impacted by cancer. Everyone I meet has a personal connection to cancer, whether it is through a loved one or being a survivor themselves.” Touchingly, he went on, “Cancer does not discriminate against anyone, which binds folks no matter their background. As divisive as this nation has become, everyone can agree that we need to continue to make a difference in those impacted by this horrid disease.”
It is clear that Bryan’s efforts for 24 Foundation and the team he created have already made a lasting impact on many lives in the Baltimore area, and we thank him for his continued support.