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Going The Distance

"It was all individual at first, and then Shannon invited Bradley. Then, they both started inviting people and Dani came up with the team name MHCC Roadsters," started Kasey Powell, a registered nurse with Memorial Hospital of Converse County (MHCC). And after that, word got around that the in-patient care staff at MHCC was forming a team made of both personnel and community members to participate in The Great Cycle Challenge.

The Great Cycle Challenge kicks off every September and inspires teams from all over the nation to pedal miles to raise awareness and funds. Their individual and combined efforts bring about a heightened awareness of pediatric cancer's vital cause and raise necessary monies for crucial research for the Children's Cancer Research Fund, a national nonprofit dedicated to ending childhood cancer.

Mile by mile, donation by donation, the MHCC Roadster team has committed to raising awareness and funds to support these children in their fight. The stories of the many children battling cancer throughout the nation and locally are what keeps the team going. "We ride for the kids. And so we push through, and we want to make our goals because nobody doesn't want to make their goal. Because those kids suffer every day, so we can suffer through a few miles," stated registered nurse, Dani Harmeyer.

In particular, there is one member who had a close family experience pediatric cancer which in turn affected her life and not just her place on the team. "Seeing my brother go through cancer, I was 12 years old, and he was 16 when he was diagnosed. That's what has inspired my whole lifelong dream to become a nurse," said Stacey Schiel, a registered nurse. "I don't want ever to let him down either. It's part of my driving force".

Many of the team made initial pledges of 75 or 100 miles for the month. But fitting in these miles is no easy task, especially with a full work schedule and their families' needs. "I try to ride every day except for these last couple of days because it's been so cold and I don't have a stationary bike," shared Shannon Brown, RN. "Because my goal is 200, I have to do 10 miles at least 20 days out of a month. So I try, but sometimes it doesn't quite happen."

Membership to the team has also met with a bit of fun and excitement.

"Anyone that raised $50 got put on a large Megatron in Times Square. They emailed you and let you know when your picture was going to be posted, and you had an eight-second window of your picture being there," said Bradley Wright, a patient care tech. "It was exciting."

Currently, the team has met many of their individual goals for miles at only the halfway point. Not ever daunted, they each, in turn, decided to up their miles for the remainder of the month.

There's even a spirit of competition! "I look at what everybody else is doing, and if I see someone has edged ahead, I think, 'I got to beat her now she's ahead of me,'" laughed Shannon. "I'm very competitive!" But the unity found on the team is inspiring, and each member is pushing the other. "Usually it's like, 'Hey, you want to go for a ride?'"

"Yeah, she got me out of bed the other afternoon, so we'd go exercise!" concluded Kasey with a laugh and a warm smile.

To follow along with the MHCC Roadsters or to donate to their efforts click here.

For more information on The Great Cycle Challenge and the Cancer Research Fund, click here.