On September 25, professional cyclist Kelly Benjamin, a 1997 graduate of the University of Las Vegas (UNLV), will return to Las Vegas to race in the USA CRITS Finals (www.usacrits.com) at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Benjamin has spent a lot of time on the winner's podium this race season. Now, she will vy for the title of best female criterium racer in the world. Like other women in the race, she'll wear a teal race number and braceletâ€”the official color of the fight against ovarian cancerâ€”because this former firefighter will also be lending a hand in the battle against ovarian cancer, an under-recognized threat to women's health.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and cycling event organizer Swagger has added fundraising and awareness components to benefit the HERA Women's Cancer Foundation to two of its September events in Las Vegas: the USA CRITS Finals, a nationally televised event that decides the world champion male and female criterium racers and the Mountain's Edge Cactus Cup (www.cactuscuplasvegas.com) a three-day mountain bike race and festival September 19â€“21 at Mountain's Edge (9700 S. Buffalo Drive) in Southwest Las Vegas. Both events take place in conjunction with the Interbike International Bicycle Expo.
â€œAs a professional athlete, a part of the job is inspiring and educating other women. In some cases, that goes beyond the bike,â€ explains pro-cyclist Kelly Benjamin, 32, of team Cheerwine. â€œI love seeing women out riding who are healthy and happy. By raising awareness of ovarian cancer, we have a chance to reach a broad base of women with information that can save livesâ€¦so there can be more women on their bikes embracing life.â€
Benjamin is a contender for the winner's podium, according to cycling experts such Chris Spaeth, editor of VeloBios.com.
"Benjamin proved that she's one of the most consistent riders on the domestic circuit with her overall win of the 2006 International Cycling Classic, Superweekâ€ says Spaeth. â€œ Benjamin is a powerful sprinter and in this year she could certainly deliver the win.â€
â€œWhen you can combine your passion with helping achieve the greater good, it's an easy choice,â€ explains Heather Fisher, also a UNLV alumna and owner of Las Vegas Cyclery and Escape Adventure Tour, both of which are sponsors of the upcoming cycling events. â€œWhen you participate on your bike or sponsor events that initiate change in the world, it becomes something more than a fun race or good marketing opportunity. It has a very real impact on the lives of women and their families. As sponsors, we're able to reach beyond the boundaries of the cycling community and deliver a message of hope.â€
The USA CRITS Finals is produced by Swagger, a company with more than 50 years of combined experience as a sports-marketing and event-management organization. The nation's leading producer of criterium racing, Swagger currently produces over 40 criterium events, including America's premier criterium, the Twilight Criterium in Athens, Ga., a race that's enjoyed tremendous success since 1980.
About HERA Partners in Action
The HERA Partners in Action program enables companies to â€œgive backâ€ a portion of sales from a product or group of products to the HERA Women's Cancer Foundation. Designated Partners in Action products include hangtags that educate consumers about ovarian cancer facts and symptoms. The Partners in Action program includes outdoor gear manufacturers such as Bronwen, BlueWater Ropes, www.climbingholds.com, Dare to Dream Expedition, Etch, Evolv, Her Sports magazine, MadRock, Petzl, Women's Adventure magazine and Zensah Performance Apparel. For more information, contact Stephanie Forte at Forte Creative Media, 702.898.2547.
About the HERA Foundation
The HERA (Health, Empowerment, Research and Awareness) Foundation is a registered 501 (c) 3, whose mission is to stop the loss of mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, partners and girlfriends from ovarian cancer by empowering women to take control of their health, empowering the medical community to find new directions in ovarian cancer research and empowering communities to provide support. For more information, visit www.herafoundation.org. To schedule an interview with HERA Foundation founder Sean Patrick, please call 970.948.7360.