Kim Beatty wasn't in the mood to celebrate her birthday.

In 2019 and 2020, she endured losing her sisters, Diane and Donna, to lung cancer. As her 60th birthday drew near in May 2021–a birthdate she shared with her sister Donna–Beatty felt a call to action and began to brainstorm ideas for what she could do to honor her sisters on the upcoming birthday.

“I felt a fundraising campaign would be a great way to honor their memories,” says Beatty, a financial advisor in RBC Wealth Management's Walnut Creek, Calif., branch.

So instead of focusing on herself and having a big celebration, she started to plan a bike ride that would help to honor and celebrate Donna and Diane.

kim beatty and sisters

Kim Beatty, left, with her sisters Donna and Diane.

An overwhelming response

Beatty was already an avid bike rider, but the idea she had in mind for her ride would require more time and dedication–and would involve the number 64.

“That number has a great deal of meaning to me because my sisters were both 64 when they passed away,” Beatty explains.

She set a riding goal of 640 miles during a three-week period that ended on her birthday, and a fundraising goal of $6,400, which she planned to donate to the American Cancer Society.

As her fundraiser began, she received more support than she'd expected. Overwhelming participation through her GoFundMe page helped her reach the goal of $6,400 in just one week. The support from her local community was heartwarming, as people not only donated funds but also shared the names of loved ones they wanted to honor. More than 600,000 people in the U.S. lost their lives to cancer in 2020, according to the American Cancer Society, and so Beatty knew that allowing others to share could be cathartic.

“It can be comforting for others to see they aren't alone,” she says, adding that it brought joy to donors to have their loved ones honored during her rides. By mid-June 2021, 126 names had been submitted to what she calls her “honor board.”

“The board bears the names of loved ones who were lost, as well as those who overcame cancer,” Beatty says. She also carried a few of those hearts in her jersey pocket during each ride of her challenge to pay tribute. “It was wonderful to hear from people as they shared their stories, but also a reminder of how devastating cancer can be.”

Something worth celebrating

Since starting her campaign, Beatty has raised more than $12,000 through GoFundMe and has long since reached her goal of biking 640 miles while averaging 30-40 miles per day.

The campaign began as something very personal for Beatty, but has since grown to be inclusive of anyone who's had a loved one battle cancer. That sense of community makes her hopeful for the future, she says.

“When people come together for a great cause, that's something worth celebrating,” she adds.

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