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24 Hours of Booty marks 15 years of biking to kick cancer’s booty

April Esposito and her sons Giovanni, 6, and Vincent, 4, cheer on her husband and their father, Robert Esposito. Esposito, who was making the ride in memory of his mother, joined hundreds of other cyclists at the beginning of 24 Hours of Booty.
April Esposito and her sons Giovanni, 6, and Vincent, 4, cheer on her husband and their father, Robert Esposito. Esposito, who was making the ride in memory of his mother, joined hundreds of other cyclists at the beginning of 24 Hours of Booty. erinsmith@charlotteobserver.com

In July 2002, Charlotte attorney and cyclist Spencer Lueders asked Myers Park residents to leave their porch lights on while he cycled the “Booty Loop” to raise money for cancer patients.

Now, 24 Hours of Booty is an annual event in its 15th year, with 1,200 participants and more than $15 million raised.

The event takes place from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 p.m. Saturday on the popular 2.8-mile jogging and biking route known as the “Booty Loop,” with its headquarters – known as “Bootyville” – at Queens University of Charlotte and Myers Park Traditional School. Roads traveled are Queens Road, Queens Road West and Hopedale Avenue.

Participants range from serious cyclists aiming for mileage goals to people who just come to ride a few laps on a bike they pulled out of their garage for the first time all year, spokeswoman Heather Sackett said.

Sackett said she’s also seen people bring tandem bikes, beach cruisers and unicycles.

It’s not just about bikes, either – the 24 hours also include survivor networking events and parties.

The event is sponsored by the Levine Cancer Institute and will also raise money for the Livestrong Foundation, the Keep Pounding Foundation, the GoJenGo Foundation, the Brain Tumor Fund of the Carolinas and WindRiver Cancer Wellness Retreats.

Funds go toward patient navigation and survivorship programs – things many patients find their insurance doesn’t cover, Sackett said.

Though the event has grown so much since it began in 2002, Sackett said it remains neighborhood-oriented.

“It all goes back to help our neighbors in our own backyards,” she said.

Registration for participants is now closed, but people interested in volunteering can visit 24hoursofbooty.org or call 704-365-4417.

Rachel Herzog: 704-358-5358; @rachel_herzog

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