Cycling for a “Wheelie” Great Cause: Team Zebra Raises More Than US$75K for Children’s Cancer Research Fund

This is why we ride – and increased our support for the annual Great Cycle Challenge even more.

Zebras who participated in the Great Cycle Challenge.
by Bruce Henderson
December 09, 2021

Cycling has an added benefit for participants in the Great Cycle Challenge – fighting childhood cancer.

Yes, that’s right! On top of being a more ecofriendly form of transportation and a great way to exercise, spinning those wheels while participating in the Great Cycle Challenge helps raise funds and awareness for Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF).

The Challenge allows participants to ride anywhere at any time throughout the month of September. Riders also set their own fundraising and mileage goals, making it more accessible for people of all ages and fitness levels.

This year's challenge was the most successful fundraising year to date for Team Zebra, with 117 Zebras from 12 countries raising a whopping $77,411 USD and pedaling 22,450 miles! Zebra finished once again as the #1 corporate team and fourth overall.

Last year’s challenge marked the first time we welcomed Zebras from around the world to participate in the Challenge as funds raised have an impact globally. CCRF collaborates with leading researchers who stay keenly attuned to the everchanging landscape of cancer research, and funds are shared with more than 9,000 experts around the globe.

This year, we embarked on yet another new initiative for the Challenge – group rides were organized to encourage employees to socialize, exercise and work together to reach their respective goals.

On a sunny Saturday in September, five Zebras from our Taipei Design Center gathered to pedal more than 200 miles in Taiwan on the Taipei Riverside Bikeway along the Keelung River. It was a windy day as a typhoon was nearby, but participants were thankful as they were able to feel the breeze even while wearing masks. At the end of the ride, they shared good cups of coffee and even better conversation.

Later, on the last Friday of September, another five Zebras in Illinois rode roughly 150 miles along the Des Plaines River Trail. Similar to Taiwan, the ride back was challenging with 20 mile-per-hour winds. Luckily, the cyclists returned just in time ahead of a rainy afternoon.

“Why We Ride” – Hear from Our Top Riders

Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children in the United States, and the second leading cause of death for adults globally. Given its prevalence, cancer touches countless lives – those diagnosed with cancer, and their caregivers, friends and family.

We asked some of our top riders this year the reasoning behind their rides. Read their stories below:

Eric Freeburg, Senior Account Manager for Healthcare Sales in Michigan & Indiana at Zebra, and one of our top three 2021 fundraisers

“I rode in memory of my coworker who lost her daughter to cancer, for my cousin Cal who is successfully battling lung cancer, and for my father-in-law who has prostate cancer in remission.

I found out about the Challenge in 2019 from my manager at the time and have been riding ever since. The challenge helps me focus my energy on riding for the month instead of working or participating in one of the many other activities I enjoy – soccer, wake surfing, kite surfing, sailing, hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, snow skiing, etc. I also love all the swag I’m rewarded with as I hit my goals!

Many cancers are now treatable – this research helps the innocent continue their childhood so they can experience the beauty of life on Earth. A little pain for me or less money in my bank account is nothing compared to what these kids endure. Let’s work to end their suffering.”

Skip Woodbury, Microsoft Infrastructure Lead at Zebra

“This year, I rode for myself, my brother-in-law, and my parents. I went through chemotherapy from October 2020 through March 2021, and my brother-in-law is currently undergoing the same. I lost my dad to cancer in 2013, and then lost my mom to cancer in 2016. In the same year I lost my mom, I was diagnosed with a type of Leukemia.

I’m an avid bicyclist. In 2018, Anna Valenti of Club Z (Zebra’s corporate fitness center) encouraged me to participate in the Challenge. With losses in my family, my own diagnosis and my cycling history, I felt it was the perfect fit for me to help battle cancer. Having now dealt with it personally, I know the anxiety associated with this disease. I also know this must be much harder being a parent of a child diagnosed with cancer.

Finding a cure has special meaning to me so I’m doing what I can to help fight this. No matter how small a donation, it can make a big difference to a child or family dealing with cancer.”

Danielle Villar, Project Support Specialist at Zebra, and one of our top ten 2021 fundraisers

“In mid-2007 at the age of 20, my brother David was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare pediatric cancer. His survival rate was low from the onset as they found a tumor in his hip. Ewing sarcoma affects more boys than girls, and teens aged 15-19 have a survival rate of roughly 56%. Once it spreads, the rate is reduced to less than a 30%. Tumors that are larger and located on the pelvis region are even less likely to be cured.

David and my parents fought harder than anything I have ever seen for three years before he ultimately passed away in May 2010. They pursued every treatment and resource available.s My brother never complained, never said he was scared, and continued to live his life to the fullest every day. He went to concerts, traveled to Las Vegas for New Year’s, and had amazing opportunities through the Make a Wish Foundation.

My brother trusted me enough to be with him and hold him during his final moments earthside – this will stay with me forever. This is why I rode.

Having been through this experience with my brother and now having three children of my own, it blows my mind that there aren’t more funds and budgets dedicated to pediatric cancers. Cancer treatments, and the lack of options for rare pediatric cancers, devastate families financially. If a few dollars here or there can help, I feel an obligation to try and do something. No family deserves to go through what my brother and parents endured. 

My one piece of advice is to not get wrapped up in the miles to which you’ve committed to ride. I only made 75% of my goal of 100 because life happens. Stay true to your intention while riding. I thought about my brother, our memories, what my life and my family members’ lives would be like with him here today. Know that what you are doing is making a difference to a family out there.”

Jim Ringbloom, Senior Advisor in Product Marketing at Zebra, and Paul Smith, Senior Program Manager in Marketing at Zebra

Jim and Paul completed their own 20-mile ride along the Des Plaines River Trail in September, which they’ve referred to as a “recovery ride” from the 100-mile Tri-State Tour Century Ride they participated in the prior month.

“My daughter is employed in cancer research, and I enjoy riding, so the Challenge was a great opportunity to combine my favorite sport with supporting a worthwhile cause,” Jim said. “The Challenge incentives getting in more miles on the bike, so it’s a win-win.”

Similarly, Paul participated because he also enjoys riding and supporting the cause.

“This was my second year and I’ll definitely do it again,” he added. “It’s a great way to build community – I’ve met other Zebras through this activity whom I would have never gotten to know had I not participated.”

Paul concluded with one piece of advice for others interested in joining the Challenge next year: “Reach out to friends and family for support. I received a tremendous amount of encouragement, both socially and monetarily, during the Challenge. It was valuable for the community of those dealing with childhood cancer, my friends, my family and for me.”

If you would like to learn more about how Zebra gives back throughout the year, or if you would like to support any of our ongoing community service efforts, please visit our Philanthropy and Volunteerism page

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Bruce Henderson
Bruce Henderson is currently a Learning Consultant for Zebra Technologies, where he is responsible for content delivery of Workforce Connect Push-to-Talk (PTT) Pro, PPME, Intelligent Cabinets, Printer Repair, passive RFID, and the development of related technical content. Bruce has more than 30 years of experience within the training industry and almost 20 years with Zebra. He has earned ADT Master Trainer and an ATD Certificate in Facilitating Virtual content.