As the saying goes, each pedal stroke gets you closer to your goal, and for the past few months, the UKI Cisco team has been working towards a very important goal. What started as a mark of respect for a beloved colleague and friend has turned into a global-wide bike ride, designed to test our team’s physical and mental strength, all for support of two amazing charities, Macmillian Cancer Support & Mind.
For Ben Bunn (Collaboration Sales Specialist at Cisco) and me, training started a few months ago, with practice sessions in the early mornings, between meetings, and again at nights, putting in countless hours and miles on our bikes as physically possible. All in preparation for the biggest cycling challenge of our lives.
Starting on 21st August 2021, we have challenged ourselves to cycle over 450 miles (724 kilometers) and climb 17,000 feet (five kilometers) in just six days! The challenge will start at the Cisco office in Crawley, UK, and eventually ending at the Giant’s Causeway in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland (a natural wonder seemed a fitting motivation to get us through our journey).
The ride itself is dedicated to Anastasia Cathcart, a dear friend and colleague for us within the UKI Cisco team. In November 2018, Anastasia excitedly went on maternity leave to have her first child and had a healthy baby boy named Mark in December 2018.
During her last month of maternity leave, before Mark’s first birthday, Anastasia received the devastating news she had breast cancer and very quickly began chemotherapy. At the same time, the world was hit by the global pandemic in March 2020, and with many countries going into lockdown, Anastasia continued her fight with the brutal disease. In May 2020, after a brave battle and at the tender age of 31, Anastasia, unfortunately, lost her fight with cancer, leaving behind her husband David and 18-month-old son, Mark.
We had the pleasure to know Anastasia for five short years. As a team, we shared many memories, from traveling the world for business events, office parties, and personal get-togethers. She was ambitious, funny, loyal, and full of life. Her passing has left a huge void in our Belfast office, where she was based, and to everyone in our global organization, both Cisco and former BroadSoft.
Anastasia is our driver for this ride, but our motivation runs much deeper. This ride is for anyone that has suffered at the hands of this cruel, indiscriminate disease — either as a victim, a carer, or a friend. It is estimated that 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. So, it is likely that we will all be touched by cancer at some point in our lives. Dealing with such a disease takes a toll on our physical and mental health. For this reason, we also want to raise awareness about the importance of wellbeing and the positive impact that exercise can have on the body and mind.
This ride will be championing how physical exercise like cycling can enable us to feel energized and empowered while at the same time raising money for two important charities that are at the heart of supporting those affected or their families when they need it most: Macmillan Cancer Support and Mind. We are hoping to raise at least £5,000 for each respective charity.
Macmillan Cancer Support is one of the largest British charities and provides specialist health care, information, and financial support to people affected by cancer. It also looks at the social, emotional, and practical impact of cancer and campaigns for better cancer care.
Mind supports people with mental health problems, lobbies government and local authorities on their behalf, and offers services that include supported housing, crisis helplines, drop-in centers, employment and training schemes, counseling, and befriending.
The aim is to get as many Cisconians involved during the ride week, regardless of their capability or location. People can join us either physically at set points during the ride or virtually from any location, be it at home on a Peloton, turbo trainer, or out on the road.
We already have a number of people that have signed up to support us and take on their own challenge from as far as France, India, and the USA! We have made it easy to log miles by integrating cycling apps like Strava into Webex. That way, the miles are automatically logged and posted into a dedicated Webex space so we can all celebrate, post pictures, and cheer each other along.
The 6-day journey will see us drop into offices and include one ferry to Northern Ireland for the final leg to the amazing Giants Causeway. We aim to honor the traditional cycling pastime and find a café or two to recharge along our route. Our expected schedule will be:
So how about you choose your goal and help us raise funds for these two incredible charities?
If you’re a Cisconian, you can simply donate via Bright Funds. For our external readers who want to contribute to this challenge, you can make donations through Virgin Money
For now, Ben, Nathan, and I will continue to train, build up our endurance and get our gear ready for the challenge. We are excited to see the momentum, participation, and donations during our journey. It will be a fantastic energy boost to keep us going, and we will be sure to report back once we’ve made it back home.
This truly is a team effort. Katie, Rupali, Kathy, Nathan, and Niaobh have made this possible, and huge thanks to everyone we have asked for help along the way.
Join the conversation and follow our journey on the hashtag #Cycle4Life2021 on social media
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