Members of the Sweet Rides team this weekend will participate in 24 Hours of Booty, a ride sponsored by a Charlotte, N.C.-based nonprofit organization that raises money for cancer research.
The annual fundraiser debuts in Georgia at 2 p.m. on Saturday near Stone Mountain Park. Roughly 400 cyclists will participate in the two-lane, 1.5-mile "Booty Loop," and cyclists will pedal continuously for 24 hours to raise money for cancer research.
The Sweet Rides team is made up of Tracy and Scott Begley of Woodstock, Nadine and Skip Wall of Holly Springs, Jill Canelli of Atlanta, Lance and Anne Lewin of Kennesaw, Amy Baur of Bethpage, N.Y., Gayle Musker of Roswell, Annette Satterfield of Marietta and Marguerite Wilson of Cobb County.
Ms. Begley said she decided to participate in the fundraiser because it was a unique way to give back to those in need.
"I wanted to (do something) to raise money for research and support services," she said, adding she's read about different events and none of them "spoke" to her.
Ms. Begley lost a friend to complications of a brain tumor and a grandfather in May to prostate cancer. The disease "takes away your dignity," she said, adding that watching her friend and grandfather struggle was "devastating."
Money raised by the event will be split between the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which "unites, inspires and empowers people affected by cancer," and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Services.
Jessica Kilgallen, event coordinator for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation, said organizers of 24 Hours of Booty thought Atlanta would be a great market to expand into.
"Atlanta has a community that gets behind its charitable causes," she said.
Ms. Kilgallen said no fundraising goal has been set, but noted she's surprised at the number of cyclists participating for the first time.
"We are pleased with the registered numbers," she added. "We've gotten a lot of very positive feedback."
The fundraiser was started by Charlotte, N.C. attorney and cyclist Spencer Lueders when in 2001 he biked 470 miles along Blue Ridge Parkway to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. After the fundraiser, Lueders wanted to further help the foundation and began riding a popular 3-mile circuit in Charlotte called the Booty Loop.
He decided to challenge himself by riding the route continuously for 24 hours.
The first fundraising event was held in Charlotte in 2002 and raised $6,000 for the Armstrong Foundation. Since 2002, the event has attracted more than 6,000 cyclists and raised more than $3.7 million for cancer research.
Columbia, Md., was the second city to host the 24 Hours of Booty in August, and Stone Mountain will be the third.
Sweet Rides has raised $7,112 so far, surpassing its $5,000 goal.
To raise more money, Ms. Begley said the team has an effort underway called Stick It Campaign - Sticking It To Cancer One Glow Stick At A Time.
For a $5 donation, the team will write "in honor" or "in memory" of a person and at night, will hang up glow sticks on its canopy in their honor.
Mrs. Begley added all the money raised in Atlanta will stay in the area, helping cancer patients get the treatment they need to live a better life.
The event is a personal one for Skip and Nadine Wall of Holly Springs.
The Walls are avid mountain bikers and when they learned of the event "knew that we needed to get involved," Mrs. Wall said.
Mrs. Wall, 32, last October was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She said she was often "disoriented" before receiving the official diagnosis.
"I knew something was not right," she said.
Doctors noticed her thyroid was enlarged and performed a thyroidectomy, which removes all or parts of the thyroid.
Mrs. Wall said doctors told her "everything was black" when they opened her throat.
Nine out of 12 lymph nodes were cancerous, and Mrs. Wall underwent radiation therapy and has had routine follow-up visits every six months after completing treatment.
Doctors recently noticed her blood work was "off" and discovered more cancerous lymph nodes around her thyroid. On Oct. 19, she will have surgery to remove them.
Mrs. Wall said she's remaining positive as doctors said she has about a 97 percent cure rate due to her age.
The disease, she added, has forced her to "look at life differently."
"It's just changed my life and my family in a good way," she said.