Team Commonwealth Bank takes part in the Ride for Hope
Published: Mar 07, 2017
A total of eight members of Commonwealth Bank staff showed pedal power in the 2017 Ride for Hope, the huge fundraiser for cancer education and support.
Only a handful of participants completed the 100-mile course in Eleuthera with several of the bank’s team finishing 50 miles. The bank is closely aligned with the fight against cancer, having made a 10-year, $500,000 pledge to the Cancer Society of The Bahamas.
At mile 44 of 50, Stephen Johnson, a branch manager of Commonwealth Bank, thought he was having a heart attack. He rested his bike near the side of the road in the grass and walked across the street toward the beach.
“Please, dear God, don’t let me have a heart attack and die right here,” he prayed.
A half hour later, Johnson was up and cycling again, pedaling with renewed energy and purpose, one of a team of eight from Commonwealth Bank who participated in the 2017 cancer fighting and education fundraiser, Ride for Hope on the island of Eleuthera.
“It was an awesome experience,” said Johnson, who had more than his share of inspiration to power on and pedal harder in the fight against cancer. His grandfather and four of his grandfather’s brothers all lost their battle with the disease, but it was a survivor who provided the greatest inspiration, a woman named Marion Lewis who works in the Town Centre Mall branch that Johnson manages.
“She’s a 19-year survivor and we all love her. We call her ‘Mama Lew’, she’s like everyone’s mom here at the branch,” said Johnson. While the cancer survivor was in New Providence, she was never far from Johnson’s thoughts as he pedaled up, down and around Eleuthera’s famed hilly roads. Only a handful of the 150 participants in the 2017 Ride for Hope went the full course of 100 miles.
“Originally, each team member committed to riding 25 miles, but at the 20-mile rest stop, the company of Juliet Johnson and Latoya Smith was so great, and we wanted to see the Glass Window Bridge, we said let’s push five more miles before returning to complete the 50-mile ride,” said Johnson. “You think of people like ‘Mama Lew’ and it helps you to keep going on.”
In the end, most of the Commonwealth Bank team rode 50 miles, though Johnson said he, Juliet Johnson (who rode the distance with a broken toe and her foot in a protective boot) and Latoya Smith proudly brought up the rear of the full complement of cyclists. Other Commonwealth Bank team members included Lavado Butler, Internal Audit Manager, and staffers Deanza Brennen, Deitra Delancy, Jermaine Jones, Juliet Johnson and Kenny Mackey.
“We are extremely proud of our team who participated in this year’s Ride for Hope,” said Ian Jennings, president of the financial institution with about 6,000 shareholders. “Ride for Hope is a great event that draws attention to and raises funds for the fight against cancer, a cause with which Commonwealth Bank is closely aligned. With some of the funds raised by Ride for Hope going to education about the importance of early detection, the ride helps to save lives and we are pleased to be part of it.”
In 2016, declaring that there was hardly a family untouched by the scourge of cancer, Jennings announced the bank was making a 10-year, $500,000 pledge to the Cancer Society of The Bahamas to assist with the operation and expansion of the cancer caring center. It is one of many causes and charitable organizations the bank supports with its largest corporate giving aimed at education. The bank has contributed more than $1 million to various education-related initiatives in the past decade.