HOUSTON - A group of cyclists has taken an annual ride to the web to help raise money for local families of children with cancer. The General's Guard is a small group of bike riders based in the Dallas area. Every May, they host a 24-hour ride to fundraise for the organization, Heroes for Children. “We don't want any family in Texas that has a child battling cancer to fight that battle alone,” says Heroes for Children Executive Director David Hancock. “A lot of people don't like to reach out and go, ‘hey, we're having trouble paying our mortgage or our bills,’ so we become that helpline to them.”
The two groups have partnered for eight years, but they had to switch gears for 2020, putting the entire fundraiser ride online. It’s still 24-hours long. Two riders take one-hour shifts at a time on training bikes they’ve set up in bedrooms, garages or backyards. The riders dial into a Zoom meeting to chat and cheer each other on. Throughout the day, donors across the U.S. who have contributed at least $25 can also jump on to meet and greet or ride along.
Money raised will also help Houston families. Heroes for Children has received requests from the family of an 11-year-old and another family of a 17-year-old. Both children recently died after losing their fights with cancer. The organization is one of the very few that provide funeral assistance. Hancock says COVID-19 has made fundraising more of a challenge, but the needs of families affected by cancer have not seen a decline.
“I've got a family right now. They've got this infant little boy diagnosed with cancer and they get the prognosis there in the ICU, and within a month, [the mother] loses her job because of COVID-19,” he says.
Since cancer never takes a day off, the General’s Guard riders are hopping on, making a difference from home. They’ve managed to raise more than $22,000 of their $30,000 goal. After this year's response, they say 2021’s fundraiser might be both in-person and virtual so that more families can be helped by anyone who wants to go along for the ride.