GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Matthew Tebbetts, vice president of marketing for Greenville Federal Credit Union, has taken action to stand out and show exactly what sets credit unions apart from other financial institutions.
Last week Tebbetts started a 1,500-mile, cross-country charity cycling ride thanks to support from area credit unions, the South Carolina Credit Union League and CUNA Mutual. The Palmetto Peloton Project's Challenge to Conquer Cancer will benefit the LiveStrong Foundation and consists of 24 riders split into five teams riding relay-style, with each team riding on six-hour shifts.
The ride took Tebbetts from Greenville, S.C., to Austin, Texas, and didn't just end once he reached the destination. Once the team arrived in Austin, they participated in a weekend of events that included a 5K run and a 90-mile bike ride with Lance Armstrong.
The ride started on Oct. 19 with the goal to arrive in Austin by Oct. 23 or 24. The team kept a blog during the ride, www.ridetoaustin.com, that was started during the training. With the help of area credit unions, the league and CUNA Mutual, Tebbetts raised over $15,000 for the ride.
"With organizations struggling to raise funds, I managed to raise the funds pretty easily. It just goes to show the strength of the credit union movement," Tebbetts said.
Tebbetts started fundraising efforts for the ride on July 14 with a wine tasting that raised more than $5,000. One of Tebbetts' friends donated art to be auctioned off at the event and another friend volunteered his restaurant to host the event.
"This was such an awesome event and way to raise money. Combined with getting some of our local credit unions, friends and teammates together, we had a very successful event. All people attending had to do was show up with an open heart and mind, knowing that we would be asking for donations and to bid on items. In the end we raised well more than I had planned."
Area credit unions that contributed to Tebbetts' fundraising efforts were SC Telco Federal Credit Union, CPM Federal Credit Union and Anderson Federal Credit Union, and Tebbetts' own Greenville Federal Credit Union was a sponsor for his team. CUNA Mutual was one of the five major sponsors.
"It's been an honor to be a part of such a special group. We admire everything Matt and his team are doing to support cancer advocacy, education and research and felt this was a natural fit in our commitment to the marketplace and people helping people. And since the ride goes through multiple states, we felt it was a great opportunity to help promote the overall credit union movement," said Kylie
Giancotti, CUNA Mutual's southwest marketing division manager.
Robert Wilson, president of Anderson Federal Credit Union, said that his credit union has been touched by cancer and thought this was a great way to support the cause. In the past month, Wilson said that the credit union lost a board member and a staff member to cancer. Wilson's wife also battled breast cancer.
Tebbetts said he started training for the ride back in June and that Paul Hughes, Greenville president, was very supportive of his work and training schedule.
"Matt never does anything half-heartedly. When he got behind this effort, there was really no stopping him. Matt's dedication and efforts will provide needed funds for cancer research and publicity for the
LiveStrong initiative. Our credit union supports Matt because it is the right thing to do," Hughes said.
Garry Parks, league president, said that it is heartwarming for him to observe credit unions collaborating in support of a worthy event such as this. "Our member credit unions are a very kind, giving group," he said.
Parks also provided another example of South Carolina credit unions joining together. Several years ago, Parks said, they joined together to raise $1.4 million to provide a child identification kit to every school-aged child in the state as part of the National Child ID Program.
"I think it is vital to credit unions that we collaborate on charity events. Our involvement in the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation over the years and the good work that they do in our local communities has done a lot to raise the profile of credit unions across the state," Hughes said.
Each team participating in the ride to conquer cancer is riding for and in honor of what they call a "cancer warrior." The warriors are individuals currently undergoing cancer treatment or those who have recently completed treatment. Tebbetts said he is riding for his teammate's wife, who is a stage-four ovarian cancer patient. Riders on Tebbetts team have written passages on the blog about why they are riding and who they are riding for.
"I will be running the 5K and riding with Lance, but the biggest event is celebrating the accomplishment with our warriors and family. That will be one of the most amazing moments for all of us," Tebbetts said.
This is the first year for the Palmetto Peloton Projects' Challenge to Conquer Cancer ride. The Palmetto Peloton Project was started in 2005 and includes fundraising events such as the Starts and Stripes Challenge bike rides, a 5K run and other events held during the annual U.S. Pro Cycling Championships held in Greenville.
Proceeds from the ride will support the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Oncology Research Institute of the Greenville Hospital System. Over the past two years, the Palmetto Peloton Project has raised over $400,000 for cancer research and advocacy efforts.