Throughout the night, hundreds of cyclists continuously pedaled a 2.85-mile loop to raise money for cancer research.
The 11th annual 24 Hours of Booty charity ride kicked off Friday night in Charlotte, despite rain clouds and thunder, and continued through Saturday. Cancer survivors, cruising in Corvettes and on bicycles, led the pack on the first lap of the Booty Loop, which travels along Queens Road West to Hopedale Avenue to Queens Road to Selwyn Avenue.
Rider Stephen Kibler pedaled for his late son, Camden, who died from leukemia in 2008 at age 5 months. The back of Kiblers royal blue and white jersey displayed a photo of his son, with a message to riders behind him: He had Leukemia. No excuses...Keep Pedaling.
Kibler said he planned to ride 160 miles one for every day Camden was alive. Kibler received ride support from eight other members of Team Camden.
We are riding to keep his memory alive, said Patti Moliver, Camdens cousin.
Myers Park High served as this years base camp, also known as Bootyville, for riders and overnight campers. The event accommodates 1,200 cyclists, and another 250 joined to energize the riders on the last day.
Shannon Carney said she rides every year. She battled breast cancer in 2003 and continues to support the charity ride and other survivors.
Carney said she found her key to survival in her friends. Every night before a next-day chemo treatment, Carney gathered with friends for pre-chemo parties of pizza and beer.
They would fill me up with positive energy, Carney said. My friends got me through it.
Inspired by survival and hoping to encourage others, Carney established a non-profit, Wind River Cancer Retreat, following her own battle. The retreat, located in Tryon, 90 minutes west of Charlotte, focuses on providing encouragement and strength for those with cancer.
Her advice to those struggling with the illness: Take some time out for yourself everyday...just for you.
Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones, who was diagnosed with stage-four pancreatic cancer in December 2011, shared his story with survivors at the events breakfast Saturday morning.
He said during his treatment, he focused on his sisters advice. Harry, you can beat this, but youve got to believe you can . Today, thats the advice he passes along to patients he encounters.
As of Saturday afternoon, the Charlotte ride collected more than $1.4 million for cancer research, according to the events website.
Organizations receiving funds from the ride include Levine Cancer Institute, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the Keep Pounding Fund at Carolinas Medical Center, the Brain Tumor Fund for the Carolinas, and the Be The Match Foundation.
Since Spencer Lueders of Charlotte founded the ride in 2002, 24 Hours of Booty has raised about $7 million for research. The once local-only ride, now has host cities from Atlanta to Indianapolis.
Lueders said he felt compelled to start the ride not because he had cancer, but because he was inspired by the story of cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. I wanted to do something that would make an impact, he said.