Their bags were packed and their bikes were ready on June 14, 2015, when seven Boy Scouts from Carrboro Boy Scout Troop 845 flew from North Carolina to Oregon to begin a 10-week transcontinental bike ride. The scouts, who are accompanied by seven scout leaders, will travel through small towns and big cities, experiencing life on the open road over the course of the summer. And while this adventure will certainly be the stuff memories are made of, the boys have taken on this biking challenge as part of a greater mission: along their 3,900 mile journey, the scouts will promote the need for teen cancer services while raising awareness for the Be Loud, Sophie! Foundation.
“The unique thing about this trip is that it has been a major long-term goal for the boys for several years,” explains Ed Billings, a scout leader who is biking with his son Sam and the other six scouts across country. “These kids have been raising money to go on this trip since many of them were in the sixth grade. And now their dream is becoming a reality.’’
As the boys travel from the west coast back home to North Carolina, they’ll be pursuing their goal of raising $19,500 to benefit the Be Loud, Sophie! Foundation. Be Loud, Sophie! was created in honor of Sophie Steiner, a UNC pediatric patient who lost her battle with germ-cell cancer at the age of 15. But Sophie’s story did not end there. Before she died, she expressed her strong desire to help adolescent and young adult cancer patients and their families at UNC Hospitals. She particularly wanted to help young cancer patients stay true to themselves in the face of overwhelming illness. The Be Loud! Sophie Foundation is dedicated to carrying out Sophie’s wish by providing financial support for special programs that enhance the independence, dignity, sense of empowerment, privacy, and identity of adolescent and young adult cancer patients at UNC. The hope is that eventually, UNC will become a national leader in addressing the unique needs of this age group and will serve as a best practices role model for other hospitals to follow.
Billings says Sophie’s parents, Niklaus and Lucy, spent a significant amount of time with the scouts before their trip began. “They wanted to tell the boys all about Sophie and to help them understand the importance of their fundraising efforts. Niklaus and Lucy are truly honored that the boys are riding to support Sophie’s cause.”
When the scouts complete their biking expedition in Wilmington, North Carolina in mid-August, Billings says he believes they will have gained a new appreciation for their country, their health, their families and for life in general.
“What’s important is that this journey is not just about the boys,” says Billings. “It’s about helping others. It has a charitable component, and that adds a whole other dimension to this trip. The boys are having a fuller experience because they’re biking to benefit kids who can’t. To them, this isn’t really a vacation; it’s a mission.”
Keep up with the Bike Loud team by visiting their blog, www.bikeloud.org.