I have a long tenure with BMC Software and have always been inspired by the culture of giving back. In my office, and locations across the globe, there are several fundraising events and volunteer opportunities throughout the year. These activities bring employees from all organizations together to make an impact on other people’s lives, and usually have a little fun. Last weekend I was fortunate enough to spend some time with 27 other BMCer’s from around the country for a 2-day charity bike ride.
The BMC Software cycling team ‘Bit by Byte’ participated in the BP MS150. This is a two-day fundraising ride organized by the National MS Society. The ride is approximately 180 miles, riding from Houston to Austin. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this is the largest cycling event of its kind in North America. There are about 13,000 cyclists riding each year, with a goal of raising $18 million to fight multiple sclerosis.
As the ride approached and I started asking for donations, I heard several stories from friends and family of how MS has affected someone they know. That is when the charity aspect hit home and I realized it isn’t just a fun biking weekend, but a real chance to make a difference in the lives of 400,000 Americans with multiple sclerosis.
This is an event that many participate in year-after-year, but it was my first one. I was nervous, but confident that I could get through it. I tried to keep the stories I heard in mind as the alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. and we all readied ourselves for hours on the bike. I was also able to draw inspiration from this to keep moving as the miles passed and my legs tired.
I finished the ride, and it was an unforgettable 2 days. We got to ride through some beautiful scenery with the Texas wildflowers in full bloom. I was overwhelmed, and a little emotional as I crossed the finish line each day. There were so many spectators there to cheer us on and holding hands out for high-fives. Some were there to see their friends and colleagues finish, others were there in support of the organization and the loved ones it helps. All the fatigue just kind of melted away as I got a boost from the incredible energy and support from they were giving out.
This was an amazing cycling experience for so many reasons, but my best memories will be of the new friendships I made. I got to know incredible people from different organizations of the company. I want to thank many of them for keeping me motivated during the ride, and hope I was able to do the same. There were some awesome non-rider volunteers too; they were up with us before dawn, helping to get us where we needed to be, and made sure we were fueled up before and after the ride. Great ride, great people, great organization!