Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

How the Journey Began

Ride Lots
Starting with a tricycle when I was only a few years old, I have ridden in some form or fashion most of my life. I began racking up serious mileage nearly 20 years ago when my husband Robert and I did the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG) in 1994, 1995, and 1996. From there we started doing more charity rides and taking other cycling vacations. Later, we became active in the Macon cycling community, which ultimately led me to start dabbling in racing a few years ago. A time trial here, a road race there, and even a few crits – it became a way to stretch and challenge myself, something I believe we never should quit doing whatever our age.

The Fall
It all came crashing down – literally – in April 2012. I entered the Macon Cycling Classic road race.  The Cat 4 women, Cat 5 men, and Juniors were grouped together, making a total of about 90 people. About two miles into the race, before everyone had had a chance to spread out, the pack was going downhill at about 40 mph. Someone got a flat tire, and about 30 of us went down in a huge pileup. There was absolutely nothing I could do to avoid being caught in it. At the time I had no idea how massive the crash was or how badly I was injured. However, I do remember another racer saying to me, “I think you need to be one of the first ones to go in the ambulance.” Not something you want to hear. In the final count, eleven of us were transported to the hospital via ambulance. There were concussions and broken bones, including a father and daughter who both broke their collarbones. Unfortunately, I turned out to be one of the worst injured. I broke my upper jaw, messed up my upper front teeth, and got a huge gash in my chin.

They sewed up my chin in the emergency room, but a few days later a plastic surgeon did a more complete job. With several types of ongoing treatment, the scar has been healing well. My plastic surgeon says that we have a window of about a year to work with it.

People seem to know me by my smile, and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed sharing. For that reason, my dental injuries turned out to be really difficult for me. It took six weeks for my jawbone to heal, and my dental doctors had to wait to see how that went before determining a course of action. By the time they consulted and I got the necessary X-rays and tests, it was three months between the crash and dental surgery. Three months of not being able to smile because my teeth looked so bad. Three months of covering my mouth while eating or laughing. Three months of avoiding meeting new clients. Damaged teeth aren’t as bad as many injuries or illnesses, but I never realized how much I took for granted in being able to bite or simply greet someone with confidence.

Once I finally got to have surgery, however, I had almost immediate relief. It was still four more months before my final dental treatment, but the worst was over.  In November I finally got my permanent bridge. At last I could smile as big as I please, and I could bite again for the first time since the crash – what a thrill! (And no more funny looks from people for eating a sandwich with a knife and fork)

Dr. Wright (oral surgeon), Dr. Ivey (dentist), Dr. Argo (periodontist), Dr. Groves (plastic surgeon), their staffs, and all of the medical professionals who helped me on the day of the crash have given me such competent and compassionate care. Also, I couldn’t have made it without the many, many people who supported me through prayer, cards, phone calls, e-mails, food, etc. I couldn’t list you all even if I tried. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Ride On
I was absolutely determined to get back on my bicycle ASAP. So, just one week after the crash, I did a time trial! It was part of a series I was doing that spring. (Looking back now, I’m pretty amazed that I gathered the energy to maintain my regular level of training and racing while a bone was healing.) Yes, I have continued racing, but only TTs. I just don’t have the desire to do any more mass-start races. At the same time, giving up mass-start races left kind of a void inside me. I needed another challenge, specifically a cycling challenge…

The answer came to me: riding centuries. I remember working toward my first century, which was back in 2000 on my 30th birthday. I had a real sense of accomplishment. Since then, I’ve done about two or three centuries per year. Even though 100 miles is not as big a deal to me now as it was back then, it’s still quite an effort. One century a month for a year would be a significant effort. Doable, but still a stretch – perfect. I love having a plan!

As I considered organized centuries, I thought about the fact that many of them benefit various charities. Hmm… I could make all of my centuries have a charitable aspect. To take something that I love (cycling) and use it to help meet a need: maybe God can work some good out of all of this. At the same time, this has become an important way for me to express my immense gratitude for the recovery that I have experienced.

So which 12 charities should I focus on? Most were obvious because they are groups that I already care about and have been involved with. For the remainder, I had some general ideas. After a little research, I was pleased to complete my list with some organizations that may have been unfamiliar to me before, but I’m glad I know about them now.  Be looking for more information about each charity during its designated month.  In the meantime, click on a charity in the list to the left to link to its website.  I hope you'll learn something about these wonderful groups and consider a financial contribution.


  1. Betty Jean - The words in your personal story are exceptionally poignant. During your recovery you stayed strong and courageous - never losing your wonderful spirit. How nice to see your beautiful smile again! I, too, am grateful for those who helped you initially; for your doctors; for Robert, who loves you dearly; and for all the others who gave you support during this time. This "Year of Centuries" is a very meaningful way to "pay it back." I love you very much, and I am so proud to be your mother.

  2. My wife and I also rode BRAG in 1994. I was trying to Google the route and stumbled upon your blog. Your pictures were a lovely reminder of that trip. I also grew up outside Atlanta--in Stone Mountain. Thanks for the memories...