By David Perlmutt
After his 132nd mile during Saturday’s 24 Hours of Booty cycling fundraiser to fight cancer, Steve Kibler took a break “hopped up on Monster” energy drink to passionately talk about two of his favorite topics – his son Camden and Charlotte’s Booty ride.
Camden was the reason Kibler was out sweating in the afternoon heat with no sleep, straining with more than 1,200 other riders to top “Hopedale Hill.” That’s a leg of Hopedale Avenue on the 2.8-mile running and cycling course in Myers Park long dubbed “the booty loop.”
In 2008, Camden died of a rare form of leukemia after living 160 days. The next year, his father – coaxed by a cousin “who is a devoted cyclist” – began riding Booty to raise money for cancer research and treatment. Kibler disavows any notion of being a serious cyclist, but set a goal of 160 miles.
“Every mile reflects a day in my little boy’s life,” said Kibler, a firefighter from Orlando, Fla. “We thought it was a reasonable goal, but it was going to take every ounce of energy I had to do it. I hate riding. My back, my neck – everything hurts. It’s not enjoyable, but it is rewarding.”
Team Camden was born. The first year, it was just Kibler and his cousin.
But the team and the support from the Booty community grew and during this weekend’s ride that began at 7 p.m. Friday, the team had 13 riders. Each adult vowed to ride 160 miles; those under 18 got to ride 80.
Yet Camden’s fight inspired many more riders on the loop.
We know what we’re up against ... Everyone knows it’s going to take a lot of money and a lot of time to figure this out. But if we can’t beat it with money, we can cope with it through the support.
Steve Kibler of Orlando, Fla. on the Booty community
The team wears jerseys with a photo of Camden on the back and: “He had Leukemia, No Excuses ... Keep Pedaling.” One rider early in the event “blew her Achilles” tendon, but kept pedaling as she found energy reading the jersey of a Team Camden member in front of her.
“I can’t tell you how many riders told me, ‘Your son got me over Hopedale Hill,’” Kibler said.
The first few rides for Kibler were for therapy. On that first ride, the last six miles were difficult, recalling the last week of his son’s life when he and Camden’s mother Jannae took turns holding him while the medical team treated him.
$400minimum amount each rider raises
1,200riders in 14th annual 24 Hours of Booty
$1.4Mamount raised this weekend to fight cancer
“I started thinking I’m going to ride the last six days of Camden’s life,” he said. “I was still trying to respect and honor the last week of his life, but I got very emotional.”
Now he rides to support others, too.
“Everybody in this (Booty) community has their own stories,” Kibler said. “It’s such a loving and supportive community. It’s a group of people who don’t believe in quitting. We know what we’re up against – cancer’s a bitch. Everyone knows it’s going to take a lot of money and a lot of time to figure this out. But if we can’t beat it with money for now, we can cope with it through the support.”