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 Foundation 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 Foundation 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 Foundation 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 Foundation 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.