A group of hardy North Carolina credit union executives and their families are doing their bit to support the troops this month as part of a novel and grueling cross-country bike race put together by a chapter of the North Carolina Credit Union League as a fundraiser.
Organizers of the bike run in the hilly Triad area of the state expressed elation last week that the league's Northwest Chapter had in a few weeks' time raised $10,000 for the Washington and North Carolina-based Hope for the Warriors charity that aids injured Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
So far, 27 riders, many sporting blazers featuring CUNA's now-mothballed Little Guy, will travel from Lewisville on three separate routes of 24, 35 or 68 miles, said the league.
"We want to give back to the men and women who risk their lives to protect this great nation," said Belinda Wilson, president of the league's Northwest Chapter. Wilson is also director of business development at Allegacy FCU of Winston-Salem. Since cycling has become in vogue in western North Carolina, the league chapter hopes that it will create excitement and diversify fundraising efforts, she added.
Among riders are Madison Heyden, the daughter of Thomas Heyden, a CUNA Mutual account executive stationed in Iraq. A friend will be joining her on the trek to show support for her father.
Also in the troop will be Jack Braswell, president/CEO Members CU of Winston-Salem, and his wife, Susan, who are riding because "no matter what one's political persuasion, we all agree that support for those who are in the military and need help is a non partisan sentiment."
There is "so much negativity out there, it is good for all of us to support positive initiatives," said Braswell, who is a past president of the Northwest Chapter.
Braswell, who describes himself as a casual bike rider, has been training with clipless shoes and pedals and said he also joined the ride to support his friend, Heyden of CUNA Mutual. "Sometimes it just takes a personal connection to get behind a cause."
On its Web site (www.ncleague.org), the North Carolina league paid tribute to the participating riders, including the Braswells, for scouting the course ahead of time and noted that "this will be the longest ride many of these people have ever attempted."
The Web site also included a message from "Team Little Guy" that applauded CU executives for "doing an amazing job of raising money for Hope for the Warriors" as they dust off their bikes and put in hours of training. "I can't express how proud I will be to pull on my Team Little Guy jersey and ride with all of these great people on March 20," said the Little Guy.