Here at AlterG, we love using this blog to tell you all about how our Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ can help you reach your health and wellness goals. From time to time, however, we like to take a break from this narrative self-indulgence to highlight what really makes this company great: our rock star users (you guys!). This week, we would like to direct your attention towards one such individual; a man whose accomplishments are rivaled only by his altruism, a man who has made it his mission to save lives by transforming the world of women’s health. This man, Andy “Funky Fresh” Funk (he doesn’t know his new nickname yet), has taken his athletic prowess and turned it into a force for the greater good, a feat that we hope this company can help promote within the sports and wellness communities. I could go on and on about Andy and his upcoming butt-busting Vegas in 24 charity ride (365 miles in 24 hours… did somebody say “saddle sores?”), but instead, I asked the Ironman to speak for himself, so without further adieu, here is our introduction of the man, the myth, the legend, Andy Funk and his audacious Vegas In 24 mission.
Andy and wife, Kristi, founders of the Pink Lotus Breast Center
Andy: “I have been an entrepreneur and impact investor for close to 20 years, and have helped numerous companies off the ground – many of them covering the health, wellness and medical markets. I am drawn to businesses that can make a difference in people’s lives and improve those lives, or even save them. After meeting my wife Dr. Kristi Funk, an incredible breast cancer surgeon, my eyes were opened to the world of women’s health. In many ways, I was shocked by what I saw. As a result, 8 years ago, we decided to build the Pink Lotus Breast Center, a fully comprehensive and integrative breast cancer center that was going to change women’s health – and it did. We have accomplished many things over the years – but what a lot of people know us for is the treatment of Angelina Jolie, which educated the entire world about the BRCA gene mutation and what it meant for women all over the globe. The joint announcement by Angelina and the Pink Lotus Breast Center became one of the most widely spread awareness messages in the history of women’s health so we felt blessed for having had an opportunity to be a big part of of it all.
While our center takes almost every insurance plan under the sun, including Medicare and Medi-Cal, it became very clear over the years that there are countless women who still do not have insurance to get treated. An equally large number of women have insurance but are not covered for many of the procedures they require. That was the moment when the Pink Lotus Foundation was conceived. Breast cancer organizations all over the world are focusing on finding the cure to cancer. Billions have been invested to find “the cure”, and while I am 100% in favor of these efforts, we just don’t know when and if it will ever be found. Meanwhile, helpless women are dying from breast cancer all over this superpower nation, and nobody is paying attention. As a result, the Pink Lotus Foundation has a clear mission to dedicate its sole efforts to helping women who have a breast cancer related issue today and need assistance – but cannot get it anywhere. And that’s where Vegas In 24 comes into play.
Vegas In 24 is a 365-mile bike ride that benefits the Pink Lotus Foundation, and as such, will provide 100% breast cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment and support to low-income, uninsured and underinsured women. The ride starts at the Pacific ocean in Los Angeles, stretches through the desert and ends in Las Vegas. The ride is entirely unassisted. There is no nutritional support, no gear support, no support at all (unless I crash and need medical attention). I will buy my own food, carry my own supplies, and fix my own flats. Riding 365 miles in 24 hours is certainly not impossible, but doing it all on your own adds a great level of difficulty and unpredictability. It’s not the 365 miles, or the 14,500 feet of elevation gain (despite it being half of Mt. Everest), or the hundreds of stop signs and traffic lights. It’s also not the 10+ hours riding in the complete dark, the exposure to the wind without drafting, or the 24 hour time limit – it’s the combination of all of those things into a single event that leaves a very narrow margin of error. If the winds are not in my favor, if the desert heat is too much to bear, if I get too many flats on Route 66, which is certainly not paved very well – all of those things will make the journey more difficult on top of just sitting in the saddle for 24 hours. I believe the severe difficulty is why so many people and amazing organizations like AlterG have supported this event.
So why Vegas In 24? Why not throw a gala or big event instead? Let me explain:
Breast cancer patients go through a ton of emotional and physical pain and stress. Patients going through chemo get stripped of all of their strength and are near mental exhaustion. Furthermore, even if these women have a strong support network, they often feel helpless and lonely on their difficult path. To me, biking 365 miles in a single day without support, resembles that journey to some degree. There is no doubt that regardless of the pinnacle of my fitness, this event will strip me of all physically strength, will emotionally drain me, and will bring out some very lonely moments over those 24 hours where I will need to make the decision to charge on forward.
The low-income and underserved women who are being supported by the Pink Lotus Foundation are going through difficult times in their lives. They either have no insurance at all or insurance that is not sufficient to allow them to receive the care they need. Most of them just have no financial means to even remotely get treated. One thing that is fairly common in the nonprofit world is to throw big galas where you raise $250,000 but spent $150,000 just on throwing the event and paying for everyone’s meal and wine. I wanted to do something that appreciated the significantly desperate situations these women are in by not “blowing” a ton of money on some event just to have enough left to provide assistance to a few women afterwards. I really wanted to maximize the value of each donation and have the highest possible amount go towards the actual cause. Vegas In 24 was the answer. While I need a bike and nutrition and a few products to make sure I will make it safely through this journey, the overall cost of the event requires just my body, heart, mind and soul, and those are free of charge. To me, it was the most honest way to give back.
And of course, there is no doubt that it’s fun to do something so crazy that people have to ask twice “you are doing what?”… followed by “and why are you doing this again”? The curiosity of why I am putting myself through this event gets people to listen and then understand the severe need for the Pink Lotus Foundation’s work and why this event is so important.
Andy, “in the zone.”
To all of those who have already or will make a donation to Vegas In 24, I am forever grateful for your support in helping me help those in need!
Andy Funk is the epitome of what we are talking about when we say we have THE best customers out there! We are extremely excited to watch Vegas in 24 come to fruition, and we stand at attention, ready to help Mr. Funk succeed in any way that we can. On that note, stay tuned for our next “Funkadelic” blog, all about how he is training for this crazy event while also casually maintaining his status as a world-class Ironman triathlete. Hint: it involves defying gravity a little bit! Now, we don’t know about you, but all this inspiration is really getting us fired up! Time to sign off for this week and go “get physical” in what will likely be the most extreme staff ping pong tournament the walls of HQ will ever see. AlterG, over and out.