For the fifth year in a row, this week's Reaching 4 Excellence Young Achiever will be putting bikers in pink next month and sending them down the road for charity. Megan Rowe, 16, is a steadfast warrior in the fight against breast cancer.
Another bike night at Fuel Bar and Grill, another opportunity for Megan Rowe to connect with metro area motorcycle riders and get them to sign up. Megan is the founder of Real Bikers Wear Pink, an annual 100 mile motorcycle ride for charity. And in just a few days, she and her small team of volunteers will put on the fifth annual ride to raise money to fight breast cancer.
"And the motorcycle rider population is just an extremely generous group of people," says Megan. "They are just fantastic to work with." Megan created the ride when she was just 12 years old after two close friends lost their moms to breast cancer and a neighbor developed it.
"It's just one of those things that touches everyone," says Megan, who will be a junior this fall at Blue Valley Southwest High School. And there she was, a sixth grader then, launching a complicated charity fund raising event.
"My dad had just gotten a motorcycle," recalls Megan, laughing, "and he was riding it one day wearing a pink T-shirt and we're like, 'That just doesn't look right.' But then it looked really right when we figured we could do something with it and have it benefit breast cancer and fight something that needs to be fought."
And she keeps at it, almost a part time job.
"Yeah, I'm all over the whole thing," says Megan, again laughing. "So it's me, my family and a couple of friends who help. It's definitely a grass roots thing."
One of Megan's biggest jobs for the ride is to line up sponsors.
"It was really scary at first," says Megan about approaching businesses and organization for sponsorships as a 12 year old. "But once I made a few calls and had gone to a few places and I could kind of figure out how I was supported, it made it a lot easier."
Her first big sponsor -- the first one to believe in her -- was Sam's Club in Overland Park.
"She didn't come across to me as a 12 year old," says Susan Orr, the store's marketing director. "She came across to me as a much more mature young lady."
Orr has arranged for the store parking lot to be the starting point for Megan's ride. And Sam's Club provides both cash and in-kind support and has helped draw in other sponsors, like Chris Cakes, which does the pre-ride breakfast.
"She's grown this pretty much on her own every year," says Orr with admiration. "She's just a remarkable young lady and I'm just so proud of her. It gives me goose bumps all the time. She's just a wonderful kid."
As Megan sends out bikers in pink for the fifth time, she's already raised more than $14,000 and tons of awareness for breast cancer research. A lot of acclaim has come her way, including a bronze Prudential Award, a major national honor for young people who do community service and charity work. But Megan says her real award is having so many people believe in her and the cause she believe in.
"If there's a year when we don't have to have Real Bikers Wear Pink anymore, if the money we raise brings and end to breast cancer, I can't even put it into words," says Megan. "That would be just the most amazing thing."
This year's Real Bikers Wear Pink ride is Sunday morning, August 14th. Check-in and breakfast are at 8:00 at the Sam's Club parking lot at 135th and Antioch in Overland Park. Bikers will ride a 100 mile route through scenic southern Johnson County. The post-ride party once again will be at Coach's Bar and Grill at 148th and Metcalf. Go to the ride website, http://rbwp.org, to register to ride, to donate and to get more information.
FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on FOX 4 News at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.