Velogal's Blog

Saturday, November 12, 2005



Here is the follow-up on the story of the stolen bike in Durham - Jonathan Vaughters of TIAA-CREF comes to the rescue and shows that the TIAA-CREF team slogan really means something: “Cycling for the Greater Good”. Yep, JV, you really done good.... And Bravo to Branan Cooper. The right thing to do... Like the good neighbor of the chained dog, Branan refused to give up until he found help...

By Lovemore Masakadza : The Herald-Sun
Nov 11, 2005 : 9:49 pm ET
DURHAM -- Jonathan Vaughters has power-pedaled up the French Alps in the grueling Tour de France and has called bicycle superstar Lance Armstrong a teammate. Now he can say he's helping Durham resident Gail Brantley restore her faith in mankind. Brantley is the cancer survivor whose cherished bicycle was stolen from her home in the Willowhaven neighborhood on Oct. 25. The dual-wheeled vehicle was a constant reminder of her victory over a deadly disease, and was an emotional memento -- she was astride the bicycle in races to raise funds for cancer research, and the names of fellow cancer survivors were affixed on the bicycle. Some of those friends later died.

Vaughters, who knows a little about the determination of cancer-fighting bicyclists -- his former teammate Armstrong was a testicular cancer survivor -- is the Denver, Colo.-based director of the TIAA-CREF cycling team. The 32-year-old retired professional bicyclist doesn't casually go about giving away expensive Javelin bicycles to total strangers.

That's where Branan Cooper comes in.

Cooper is a Duke University graduate living in Landenberg, Pa., who reads The Herald-Sun on the Internet to keep up with the community and his friends. He read about Brantley's misfortune in the Nov. 3 online edition. Though her plight pricked his heart, he was confident that the thieves would realize how dirty their deed was and return their plunder. Days went by, and when Cooper did not read that the bicycle was recovered, he was unable to sit by idly any longer.

"Gail's story was so compelling," Cooper said. He remembers thinking, "There's got to be a way to do the right thing."

So he did what any modern-day bicyclist would do. He turned to the computer.
Cooper wrote e-mails to more than 200 people trying to get contact information for the makers of Cannondale bicycles. Brantley's stolen bike was a Cannondale. But company officials said they receive many similar pleas for help and could not provide a replacement for Brantley. Instead, they offered to do a nationwide plea to get the bicycle back by issuing a news release highlighting Brantley's case. Cooper did not like that idea, so he returned to his e-mail contacts and made calls to other people in the cycling world in search of new ideas. The solution came to him.

Vaughters heard of Brantley's dilemma and knew immediately what had to be done.
He said his cycling team gets 30 to 40 bicycles a year from sponsors. At the end of the year they normally sell them in anticipation of a supply of new bicycles the coming year. He decided to give Brantley a bicycle from the outgoing stock.

"It seems like the right thing to do instead of selling the bicycle to someone," Vaughters said.

Brantley said she was shocked -- grateful, to be sure, but shocked -- when she received the good news from Cooper. "I am very honored that they would do that," Brantley said. "It's nice to know that there are kind people and it's not all people that would steal bicycles."

Brantley is already making plans to take part in the Pan-Mass Challenge in Boston to raise money for cancer research next year. That is the same competition in which she entered in 2001 to celebrate her cancer-free life and raised $10,000 for cancer research in the process. She covered the 92 miles in seven hours and met all those friends whose names were on her former bicycle.

This time she'll be on the 47-centimeter Javelin bicycle from Vaughters, who is shipping it to the Bicycle Chain Store in Durham for assembly.

But, as they say on those late-night television commercials: Wait, there's more. Brantley also will be given a U-lock that is more burglar-proof and a Pan-Mass Challenge jersey from Pan-Mass Challenge.

Though Cooper doesn't wish to be in the limelight, he did allow that he was thrilled with the fruits of his indignation-turned-activism. "It's great to see the cycling community rally to help a cancer survivor," he said.

The photo is TIA-CREFF riders - Redlands 2005. News article courtesy of the Durham Herald Sun

4 Comments:

  • Great uplifting story. Thanks for your part in publicizing it.

    By Anonymous Amy, At 10:38 AM  

  • We are proud in North Carolina of Branan's good deeed!

    By Blogger Dr. Ed, At 3:35 PM  

  • Ubi caritas et amor, ubi caritas Deus ibi est.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 10:11 AM  

  • Latin translation for the last post:
    Where charity and love are, God is there....
    vg

    By Blogger velogal, At 7:35 PM  

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