Guest Post: Jennifer Carey
Techie, Cyclist, Nonprofit Entrepreneur Creates The Boob Ride.
I have found a way to connect my technology background, multiple English degrees, and being a cyclist into a non-profit that supports curing breast cancer. Wow, what a journey.
I started in the tech industry as a technical writer. I have two degrees in English and just happened to land a job as a tech writer in the transportation engineering sector, and then I hopscotched into home integration and electronics. After years of writing end user’s manuals and technical specs, I leapfrogged into managing control systems programmers (without being able to read a single line of code). I am pretty sure I was one of the few women in the Residential AV business running a programming department with programmers for AMX, Crestron, RTI, URC, Lutron, and others.
At the beginning, the CE industry seemed like the wild west, and sometimes I was the only woman at the jobsite or in the seminar. I saw the industry go through major changes and I started to notice more women-owned and women-run companies at the shows. It was exciting to see women in executive roles taking on what had once felt like a boy’s only club. As the momentum was building, I stumbled upon Carol Campbell and Women in CT. It was a great introduction to how successful women network and mentor each other. Before I knew it, I was on the advisory board for Women in CT, and learning how I could give back.
While I was considering all the ways I could volunteer and make a difference with Women in CT, my family was blindsided. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a long an arduous treatment. It was hard on everyone in my family and we struggled to get through it all without losing ourselves in the avalanche of worry and fear. I decided that even though my mom’s life had been spared, there were many women and men who did not share the same fate, so I set out to do something. Using all the networking and business skills I had learned from my mentors at Women in CT, I set off to create something new.
I approached a colleague and avid cyclist to see if he would help me start a bicycle ride to raise money for breast cancer. My colleague, Paul Self, and I put together a ride of 35 people and we raised $800.00 in 2010. Paul is a master marketer and my story was pretty compelling, so our event almost doubled in size each year. Seven years later, we are operating The Boob Ride® in three venues and two states with hundreds of participants.
We found our niche and focused on creating a fun event for cyclists of all skill levels. We build camaraderie with our tongue-and-cheek atmosphere and our awards ceremony. The awards that we give our parody the Tour de France’s stage winner categories like Best Overall Rider (Yellow jersey), Best Sprinter (Green jersey), King of the Mountain (Polka-Dot jersey), and Best Young Rider (white jersey), but instead of the winners receiving jerseys, they receive stuffed and mounted bras! We added a few of our own awards like the Maglia Rosa (Pink Bra, Women’s only award), Most Aggressive (Red Sports Bra), and the Most Supportive Club/Team (DDD Blue bra with a backbrace). While a bit irreverent, the awards ceremony is the highlight of the event.
Last year, we launched rides in three cities and two different states: Orange County, San Diego, and Pennsylvania. In addition, we decided to create our own California nonprofit organization called FUN 4 GOOD. We create fun events for good causes, and The Boob Ride is our flagship event. We even own a trademark on “The Boob Ride”, which forced me to learn how to do trademarks.
As the popularity of The Boob Ride exploded, our numbers increased and we raised close to $20k in 2015. This year, we are looking to expand our participation and set the ground work for more events. Our Orange County and San Diego rides take place on April 16, 2016 and our Pennsylvania ride will be held on July 16, 2016.
We have created a great team and have many volunteer and sponsorship opportunities available. If you interested in sponsoring, donating or participating in the event, check out our website at https://www.theboobride.org/2016-rides/
As Paul always says, “Don’t be a boob, sign up now”.