Moab local Ken Ballantyne is spending a lot of time on his bicycle these days and it’s not just for his health – it’s for the health of children, too. Ballantyne is participating in an annual nationwide fundraising event called the Great Cycle Challenge.
Great Cycle Challenge USA is a nonprofit started in 2015 which has raised $24,615,507 in support of research to develop better treatments and to find a cure for childhood cancers, according to its website. According to the organization, over 15,000 children in America are diagnosed with cancer every year.
Participants in the Great Cycle Challenge USA’s annual month-long fundraising event set a target number of miles to ride by bicycle as a personal cycling challenge to fight kids’ cancers.
Riders then spread the word about their challenge and ask for donations, which can be made through their challenge page on the Great Cycle Challenge USA’s website. Those who wish to be riders may also sign up on the website. Due to uncertainty caused by the pandemic, this year’s event was rescheduled from June to September.
Ballantyne said he got involved with the Great Cycle Challenge five years ago and has a long-term dedication to the cause.
“It’s one of those things I will always be part of, somehow,” he said, adding that he is always looking for ways to do something for others, and kids have a special place in his heart.
In the past, Ballantyne has dedicated his ride to one or several children who were receiving cancer treatment.
Last year, Ballantyne rode in support of a very young member of the Moab community, Olivia Blackwelder, who had recently been diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Ballantyne said he recently saw Olivia; she had just started first grade and “is doing well.”
Ballantyne said this year he is doing things a little differently and “riding for all children.”
So far this year, Ballantyne has ridden 202 miles out of his 500-mile goal. He noted that he would have gone farther already, but he has been plagued by one flat tire after the other.
“I’ve had five in nine days,” he said. “It’s crazy. It’s a 2020 curse, it’s got to be.”
Flat tires have not equaled flat fundraising, however – Ballantyne has already raised $1,721, surpassing his original goal of $1,000. He said he is choosing to not officially raise his fundraising goal this year since so many people are struggling financially at the present time – but those who feel inspired to donate to the fundraiser still may.
In the past four years of participating in the Great Cycle Challenge, Ballantyne bicycled a combined 2,225 miles and raised a total of $9,837, according to his fundraising page.
Ballantyne said he hopes to inspire others to “get involved with something that will help somebody else.”
“If we all strive to help other people, it’ll make it a whole lot better world to live in,” he said.
To donate to Great Cycle Challenge USA, go to greatcyclechallenge.com or contact Ballantyne at 435-260-1896.
Annual fundraiser seeks cures for childhood cancers
Cost: Donations welcome
Contact: Ken Ballantyne, 435-260-1896