by Christie Chisholm, East Mountain Living Magazine, Winter 2010
Cheri Casey’s family has had more than its fair share of cancer. Her grandmother, aunt and uncle all passed away as a result of brain tumors in the last decade. Just within the last couple years, her mother developed breast cancer. And so, not surprisingly, Casey decided she wanted to do something to help the fight against a disease that has been diagnosed in more than 17.9 million Americans.
Casey is a lead fundraiser for the local chapter of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. She became involved with the organization four years ago, a few months after her parents started volunteering for it. The group’s primary funding source comes from about 40 annual motorcycle rides organized around the country; for the last three years, Casey (a biker herself) and her family have raised more than $5,000 for the local Ride for Kids.
She lives off the grid only 400 feet from the top of San Pedro peak, in a house that boasts a phone line as its sole utility. She hauls water to the home she’s lived in since 2003, when she moved to New Mexico to be closer to family. Casey has been in the hairdressing business for 25 years, but her most recent endeavor, Tanglz, just opened in August of last year. The salon (located at 12165 N. Hwy. 14, Suite G, in the same shopping center as Triangle Grocery), which is going strong with four full-time employees, has proven to be a pivotal instrument in her fundraising.
Tanglz’ parking lot plays host every spring to Bike Day at the Village of Bella Vista. It’s a show Casey puts on about a month before the Ride for Kids, which takes place in Albuquerque. Other local businesses help with the effort by attending and helping spread the word. “It’s important for people to buy local and stay local,” says Casey. “We patronize each other’s businesses.”
For a mere $5 entry fee, local bike owners can enter their hogs in a contest voted on by the public. People can also buy tickets to a raffle that gives away gift certificates, T-shirts and other prizes. In 2009, about 40 bikes participated in the show, raising more than $1,100. This year, due to a heavy snowstorm on the day of the event, only 18 bikes turned out, but the day still yielded close to $1,000. The next bike show will take place on May 22, 2011.
The proceeds all go to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. The organization acts as a support system for children with brain cancer. The money it raises goes toward research, financial aid and a scholarship fund for survivors who go on to college. It also helps with daily tasks like providing transportation for families going to and from hospitals.
Last year, the Albuquerque bike ride raised about $73,000 with more than 400 bikes. As the only PBTF ride in the state, it attracts bikers from all over New Mexico as well as surrounding states, says Casey. The next one will be held on June 5, 2011. In addition to helping out with the Ride for Kids and putting on a bike show, she and her family also help organize auctions, pizza parties and gourmet dinners throughout the year to raise money. “Every little bit helps,” she says. “Every quarter adds up.”