Wheels of Justice Rides Into Its Third Year
by Bernie Gehris
Though winter is not yet over, the Wheels of Justice Cycling Team is planning for this summer’s Courage Classic fundraiser to raise money for The Children’s Hospital. The team, now in its third year, is organizing its riders and sponsors in preparation for the 2008 ride that will be held July 26–28.
Last year’s team had 206 riders, and raised more than $184,000. In its first two years, the Wheels of Justice team raised more than $314,000. As it did last year, this year’s team is dedicating all of its proceeds to The Children’s Hospital Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Through this commitment, the team is able to learn first-hand about the life-saving services and research that our funds are supporting.
The 2007 donation check presentation was held last October at the hospital’s amazing new facility. The team heard from Dr. Steven Hunger, the new section head of The Children’s Hospital Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, who described the many life-saving treatments and programs that the team’s donations will be used to fund. Dr. Hunger then rose to the challenge and accepted the team’s invitation to ride the Courage Classic next year as a member of the Wheels of Justice team. Welcome Dr. Hunger!
As a member of The Children’s Hospital Oncology Advisory Committee, and an eight-time rider of the Courage Classic, I personally have experienced innumerable stories of children who have been treated at The Children’s Hospital. I would like to share one such story.
Riders have the opportunity to fill out a sign that states "My Ride is Dedicated to _______." You fill in the name of the child you are riding for, and pin it to the back your jersey. On the first day of the 2007 ride, I met Charlie, a 9-year-old who was pedaling up Vail Pass with his mother. The sign pinned to his back stated, "My ride is dedicated to ME." When I asked him about it, he proudly proclaimed that he had donated his bone marrow to his sister. His mother then filled in some details.
Charlie’s 11-year-old sister Emma was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia just one year earlier. Her best (and perhaps only) chance to survive required finding a perfect bone marrow match. Charlie was that match. Emma was blasted with chemo and radiation to destroy all of her bone marrow, and then received the marrow donated by her brother in an operation performed at Children’s in November 2006. When I asked how Emma was doing, her mother replied that she was doing fine, looking forward to school in the fall and, that she was on a tandem bicycle behind us, riding the Courage Classic with her father. Wow! A mere eight months after receiving a complete bone marrow transplant, Emma was riding a bicycle over Vail Pass — to raise money for The Children’s Hospital. Stories like this inspire me to continue riding and raising money — so that all children have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.
Law Firm Sponsors Lead the Way for Kids
The 2008 Wheels of Justice fundraising campaign is in full swing. Sponsorship packets were sent to Denver law firms and businesses in December, and Wheels of Justice Leadership Council members have been following up with personal phone calls. Sponsors are a key part of the team’s support of The Children’s Hospital.
In 2007, more than $50,000 of the team’s donations came from the Wheels of Justice Law Firm Circle of Support — a group of Denver’s leading law firms and law-related businesses that sponsor the team. This year, firms are encouraged to join the Circle of Support at the Supreme ($10,000), Barrister ($5,000) and Partner ($2,500) levels. All contributions are tax-deductible and will go directly to The Children’s Hospital. Pryor Johnson Carney Karr Nixon has been a lead firm sponsor of the Wheels of Justice for the first two years, and they backed up this sponsorship with a strong contingent of team riders. In addition, Cooley Godward; Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe; and Faegre & Benson have sponsored the team for two years running at the Barrister level. The team continues to be sponsored and supported by the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations.
Your support as a rider, volunteer, individual donor or firm sponsor will make a huge difference for The Children’s Hospital and the Wheels of Justice. Let us know if you think your firm, employer, clients or other businesses might be interested in becoming a corporate sponsor of the Wheels of Justice team in 2008. Sponsorship funds go directly to The Children’s Hospital and sponsors receive great media and event exposure throughout the year.
Whether you are a beginning cyclist looking to get fit this spring and summer or a veteran racer looking for an epic challenge (try adding the extra 100-mile "century" challenge on day two), the Wheels of Justice encourages you to clip-in and sign-up for the 2008 Courage Classic. Lawyers and non-lawyer cyclists are welcome to join. As a team member you will have access to weekly group training rides, online training tips, and team parties (before, during and after the ride). Local health clubs and bike shops also offer discounts to riders.
In the 2007 Courage Classic, 2,000 riders raised $2.6 million for the hospital. With the legal community’s continuing support, the Wheels of Justice Team plans to shatter its prior fundraising efforts.
The Children’s Hospital is one of our region’s greatest resources — and one that each of us hopes never to need, but when a child we know becomes ill, it is comforting to know that some of the best doctors, researchers, nurses and volunteers are there. For more information on the Wheels of Justice team and its sponsors, visit http://www.wheelsofjusticecycling.org, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Early-bird registration for the Courage Classic begins in early February at http://www.couragetours.com.
Bernie Gehris is an associate at Burns, Figa & Will, a member of the Wheels of Justice Leadership Council, a member of The Children’s Hospital Oncology Advisory Committee, and the parent of a former oncology patient at Children’s. You may reach him at (303) 414-6980.