In September 2012, Gary Byrne was volunteering at Kosair Children’s Medical Center –Brownsboro on the day that the Bike to Beat Cancer was being held. The biking event’s start and finish lines were at the medical center, and Gary cheered on the riders as they crossed the finish line. It was then that he made a commitment to one of the riders that he would join her for the 2013 ride. From there, as Gary puts it, “It was meant to be. The Bike to Beat Cancer has become a meaningful part of my life.”
Those who know Gary and his wife, Mary Jo, would say the Byrnes put their whole heart into everything they are doing, especially when it comes to Kosair Children’s Hospital. Gary not only rode in 2013, but he served as co-captain of the Kosair Children’s Hospital “Just for Kids” team. Thanks to Gary’s efforts, the “Just for Kids” team recruited several new riders and helped to raise more than $113,000 in support of the Addison Jo Blair Cancer Care Center at Kosair Children’s Hospital. This was a $90,000 increase from what was raised in 2012 for pediatric cancer services. In total, the Bike to Beat Cancer raised more than $380,000 in 2013 to support the Norton Cancer Institute.
This year, Gary is once again captain of the “Just for Kids” team and is taking on a new challenge of riding his first 100-mile course. Like many of the Bike to Beat Cancer riders and participants, Gary has been touched by cancer. He will be riding in memory of Brooke Clemons, a close friend of Gary’s family and a patient at Kosair Children’s Hospital from 2004 to 2006 battling Wilms’ tumor.
While Gary is on the bike, Mary Jo is supporting him and the other Bike to Beat Cancer riders. For the past two years, she has volunteered at the start and finish lines the day of the event. Mary Jo has been a volunteer with Kosair Children’s Hospital for the past 20 years, making and selling jewelry and crafts that have raised thousands of dollars during that time. She enjoys being able to support Gary and the “Just for Kids” team as they ride.
“We’ve enjoyed the camaraderie with other like-minded folks,” Gary said. “We’re inspired by their spirit and the worthiness of the cause; and we’ve met some very generous people along the way.”
Gary feels that the health and fitness benefits of riding in a bike event are a great personal motivator in addition to helping a great cause.
Gary’s personal goal for the 2014 ride is to raise $5,000 to help support the Addison Jo Blair Cancer Care Center at Kosair Children’s Hospital. Follow Gary on his personal Bike to Beat Cancer page. Cheer on Gary and all of the riders during the Bike to Beat Cancer on Saturday, Sept. 20, at Kosair Children’s Medical Center – Brownsboro. To learn more, visit BiketoBeatCancer.org.