Meet Robert Wilhite, a reknowned Atlanta area cycling coach and the 2008 Southern Bicycle League President.
Aside from coaching, Robert is also the founder and organizer of the Jackson County Brevet century ride in Braselton, GA. The Brevet is an organized bicycle ride for the purpose of raising funds and awareness for Aplastic Anemia. Robert’s wife, Kelly, suffers from this disease. Below, Robert shared with me how this special ride came into being.
I sincerely appreciate your willingness to highlight our charity ride, as this has become the most important aspect of cycling in my life.
Regarding the Brevet:
Six months after we were married, my wife, Kelly was almost killed by a van that ‘buzzed’ us. She broke 4 ribs, tore all the ligaments in her shoulder, broke her collar bone, punctured her lung, and had a severe concussion. She underwent 3 major surgeries to correct it all and today she has made a 99% recovery.
From that accident, I learned all about the Aplastic Anemia that Kelly suffers from, and that stress or major trauma can trigger the disease. It was then that we both discovered that the treatment for Aplastic Anemia had not changed in 25 years. Thinking about all the medical advancements in our lifetime, that seemed incredible to me. Aplastic Anemia is very rare and deadly and it receives almost no funding – hence the lack of modernized treatment options.
I remember sitting on the couch with Kelly in March 2010 telling her I couldn’t sit back and do nothing about this horrendous disease. I couldn’t change the world, but I knew cycling. That was the birth of the Jackson County Brevet. Two and a half months later, over 600 cyclists had registered for our 1st event, and we raised $25,000 for Aplastic Anemia with 88 volunteers and over 50 sponsors. It was one of the most humbling days of my life. As Kelly and I were leading on the start of the ride, I remember looking back at all the cyclists. I was overcome with emotion that our event was so blessed as to have so many supporters.
After being diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia at age 19, Kelly was literally sent home to die. Later, she also learned that a 19 yr old with this same disease, in the same hospital, had died. Since then, Kelly had never talked to, or ever met anyone with Aplastic Anemia. I can’t imagine how lonely she had felt for all those years.
My motivation started with my bride, but now my goal is to continue to inform others about Aplastic Anemia who are not familiar with the disease.
My personal goal is to raise $100,000 in 3 years for the national Aplastic Anemia foundation to spark research to change the 25 yr old treatment.
Last year (our first for the Brevet) the families who worked our SAG stops were the families & friends of 2 young girls (8 & 15 years old) that we had met with Aplastic Anemia. They will be back again this year. This event is SO FAR BEYOND just a century ride. It’s creating hope for my bride and all those who suffer from this rare and deadly disease.
– The ride is doubling in size with registration limited to the 1st 1,200 who sign up- FREE t-shirts to those who register by May 31st or earlier if we reach 1200 riders, which ever occurs 1st.
– All NEW routes this year
– Create a team with a minimum of 10 members and everyone gets a discount
– Our online registration portal, http://www.PreRace.com, has selected our event out of 1000’s of events as one of their premier events and is highlighted it on their home page- Channel 46 and Fox 5 are slated to do a story on our event
We need: volunteers and food donations. anyone can send an email from our event website on either.
Facebook Page: Jackson County Brevet
Online Registration: http://www.PreRace.com
Robert Wilhite, Certified USA Cycling Coach
Head Cycling Coach, Atlanta Triathlon Club
Member: USA Cycling Coaches Association
SBL, President 2008