Celebrating Life on the Booty Loop
I am drawn to endurance events like ultra-marathons and Ironman triathlons. So when I started work at A M King and found out that the company has a team that rides in a 24-Hour charity cycling event put on by 24 Foundation, I was eager to get involved. Joining the group was an even easier decision when I found out there is an impressive 50 percent company participation rate. That’s a far cry from the 11 employees that rode in 2014 with prompting from Architect John Koury. Now our team boasts not only dozens of employees, but also clients, relatives and friends!
Last year was the first year I was based in Charlotte and able to ride. It was an awesome experience. Such an amazing atmosphere and energy surrounded the 3-mile Booty Loop in Myers Park. My attitude last year was to ride a good number of miles and rack up the laps. This year, my mentality was similar. Then I got the opportunity to sit down with 24 Foundation Regional Director Lisa Dale and my perspective changed. I realized there was more to the event than just counting laps. Lisa mentioned something during our conversation that has stuck with me. “The point of the 24 Hours of Booty (24 HOB) event is to celebrate life.” This celebration looks different to everyone. It may be walking one lap or riding the entire 24 hours. So, my approach to this year’s 24 HOB will be to slow down and focus on making connections. I’m going to listen to stories about people’s journeys with cancer and how 24 Foundation has positively impacted their lives.
Here are some excerpts from my conversation with Lisa, whose work with the 24 Foundation offers hope for individuals and families who need help navigating the daily demands of cancer:
AMK: What is the 24 Foundation’s mission?
Lisa Dale: Our mission is to inspire and engage communities to make an immediate impact on the lives of people affected by cancer. For us, that means investing in services that untangle the maze of appointments, tests, and treatments after diagnosis, and funding programs to increase the quality of life for survivors decades into the future.
AMK: Can you give a brief history of the 24 Hours of Booty event and how it has evolved?
Lisa Dale: 24 Foundation, formerly known as 24 Hours of Booty, has evolved from one man, Spencer Lueders, with a goal to change the conversation about cancer, to a national foundation aiding in the revolution of cancer navigation and survivorship. The Foundation’s first fundraising event, 24 Hours of Booty, was first held on the famed Booty Loop in the Myers Park neighborhood of Charlotte, NC in 2002. The 24 Hours of Booty signature event expanded to locations outside of Charlotte, including Indianapolis, and transformed into what is today known as 24 Foundation– an engine for advancements in cancer survivorship and navigation services.
AMK: Tell us about some of 24 Foundation’s beneficiaries.
Lisa Dale: LIVESTRONG is our national beneficiary. Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute and Levine Children’s Hospital are our primary local beneficiaries. And then we have several in Charlotte that include Carolina Breast Friends; Go Jen Go; Claire’s Army; Chemo Cars, Pinky Swear Foundation and more. Since its inception, 24 Foundation has raised more than 21 million dollars for cancer navigation and survivorship.
AMK: How does 24 Foundation decide which programs to fund and support? What percentage of total donations go toward cancer programs?
Lisa Dale: We have a well-defined grant-making process to ensure that gifts that we make align with our mission and vision. Eighty-one cents of every dollar is spent on mission-related expenses. Those seeking organizational funding from 24 Foundation may submit an application to our Grants Committee @24foundation.org when the application window opens each fall.
AMK: Why is 24 Hours of Booty a cycling and walking event and not a 5k, for example?
Lisa Dale: It started as a cycling event because Spencer Lueders, an avid cyclist, wanted to use his passion for cycling to impact the cancer community. Because people also wanted to experience the magic of 24 Hours of Booty on foot, we added the walking event. A 5k represents a finite course, yet 24 Hours of Booty represents an infinite loop that allows our participants to ride or stride through an amazing experience on a closed course for as long or as little as they like.
AMK: Can we get some more insight about you, Lisa? Did you always want to work for a nonprofit supporting cancer survivors, especially one that’s so involved in the cycling community?
Lisa Dale: Interestingly enough, no. I was not a cyclist until six years ago when I met a friend who was an avid cyclist. It has opened up a whole new community that has become my cycling family. Though we often think we are writing the chapters of our life, we are many times just living the chapters that life presents.
AMK: Are there any challenges associated with gaining corporate participation?
Lisa Day: Our corporate partners are incredible advocates for 24 Foundation. The only challenges we experience are with internal protocols when it comes to team participation and corporate guidelines. But we always find a way to make it work!
AMK: Has corporate giving to 24 Foundation increased in recent years?
Lisa Dale: Our corporate engagement has grown exponentially since rebranding to 24 Foundation. This rebrand has enabled us to expand our partnership and revenue opportunities to impact the local and national cancer community futher and stand by those affected by cancer every step of the way.
AMK: How can smaller companies make a difference?
Lisa Dale: Everyone can make a difference! Some of our most impactful teams are small in number yet mighty in influence. Smaller corporate teams can easily create FUNraisers, share mission moments, engage in volunteering at any one of our many local beneficiaries, and partner as an event sponsor.
AMK: Has there been one person, a recipient of a 24 program, that has touched you and really stood out over the years?
Lisa Dale: In my position, I connect every day on some level with our participants, and many times their families, to offer support, refer resources, and give appreciation for their partnership with 24 Foundation. A team brought to my attention that a child living with cancer, who resided on the LOOP, had recently registered for 24 Hours of Booty. For several years, he had eagerly watched cyclists roll by from the front door of his home. We helped get the word out that this kid needed a little boost to meet his $400 fundraising level. Within 12 hours, he had raised over $1600. 24 Foundation asked him to be our ride marshal for the cancer survivors’ lap at the event. As he rolled out to the Start/Finish Line on his bike with his mom beside him, he beamed like it was his birthday! Finally, it was HIS turn to pedal the LOOP and enjoy the magic of the 24-hour experience.
AMK: Can you describe the atmosphere around the 24 Hours of Booty event? Companies like to have fun with the 24-Hour ride. What is the most unusual or outlandish costume you’ve seen on the loop?
Lisa Dale: The experience of 24 Hours of Booty is infectious! There is a feeling of hope, dedication and celebration that seems different from other cancer events. The Booty family immediately connects in a way to support and provide hope and healing to one another and the larger cancer community. As for the outlandish costumes, we LOVE seeing our participants take it to the next level and bring greater creativity and FUN to our celebration! You will see anything from tutu’s, caped crusaders, rock star characters, themed teams – all an extension of the personalities riding.
AMK: Is there anything about this year’s 24 Hours of Booty event that will be different from previous years?
Lisa Dale: We are always searching for ways to enhance the experience for our participants, sponsors, beneficiaries, volunteers, and spectators. Our 2019- 24 HOB will include an expanded Mission Central area for cancer survivors to connect and learn more about our beneficiaries, more Bootyville FUN that will include a Dunk Tank, Tap Snap Photo Booth, and a new VIP Viewing Area sponsored by Accenture, and a Misting Station/ Hydration Station sponsored by PNC Bank in Burwelll Circle in front of Queens University.
AMK: You said earlier that cancer is a heavy subject, so how can we deliver hope?
Lisa Dale: Living with cancer brings a steady stream of physical, emotional, and financial challenges. Hope is the expectancy that something good will happen in the future. It can play a role in how a person successfully copes with illness and in the improvement of someone’s life. By joining forces with the mission of 24 Foundation, we can provide hope and change the course of cancer by advancing local and national cancer survivorship and navigation programs. These efforts make real and tangible improvements in people’s lives, right now.
About Lisa Dale: Lisa Dale has 30 years of corporate marketing consulting experience with Fortune 500 companies executing their mission and message through phased plans to create brand awareness. After recognizing her desire to make an impact in her community and conversations with the Executive Director of 24 Foundation, it was clear her skill set was a perfect match to further advance the organization’s initiatives. She’s thrilled to be Regional Director of a nonprofit that offers hope and connectivity to our cancer community and allows her to engage in her passion for cycling.