Jefferson Award Winner: Angie Gibbs Thomas - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Jefferson Award Winner: Angie Gibbs Thomas

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- Pink is not the first color that comes to mind when you picture a gang of bikers. But every year one woman rallies hundreds of riders to put on pink and join in the fight against breast cancer. 

It's a rumble in the distance. You'll hear this parade before you see the leather glistening in the sun. But the ringleader is not a burly, bearded biker... far from it. "My family would think that's hilarious that now I ride a motorcycle because that isn't part of what I came from but I love it," says Angie Gibbs Thomas. "My husband rides, and my friends all ride, it's a great thing and we have a great time." 

For six years, come windy weather, relentless rain or beautiful biking conditions Angie has lead 'Riding for a Reason', a pink posse on a journey to raise money and awareness for the most common cancer in women, breast cancer.  "Motorcyclists in general are really, really loyal and they're supportive and they're a great, great group of people who dedicate a lot of time and money to a lot of causes," explains Angie, "So it was a perfect fit."

No doubt, the numbers are impressive. "The very first year we had like 40 motorcycles and we raised like $1,800," recalls Angie. "And we've had years now where we've had almost 300 bikes and we've raised a little over $60,000."

The money supports the search for a cure and has also helped Marshfield Clinic pay for a mobile mammography unit. It now joins the annual trek providing on the spot mammograms. But that's not what pushes people to get involved, it's Angie's infectious energy. 

"Angie, her presence is just a person you want to be around because she's always happy and smiling," says Mike Hill, Angie's co-worker at Charter Media.  "She wants to help. She does things because it makes her feel good," he adds. 

Angie explains her motivation in a simple way, "I don't ever want a woman to feel alone. People are fighting for her as long as she's fighting." 

Angie understands that, now more than ever. She's in the middle of her own battle with a different type of cancer, she's been diagnosed as stage four. 

"You don't always know that you matter, or that you've made a difference, or that you've done enough for someone. And clearly I've felt that now. I mean, clearly, I don't have to wonder about that anymore," says Angie. "People have just been amazingly generous and kind to me. and I feel it everyday. I hope that's how those women feel when they know that all of those bikes are riding for them."

And if you're wondering, Angie is as tough as the leather she sometimes wears. "Either you're going to buck up, you're going to fight it and you're going to do what you can, or you're going to give up and I'm not a quitter," Angie says with a smile on her face. 

If you'd like to learn more about Riding for a Reason click here

If you know someone you'd like to nominate for a Jefferson Award fill out the form here

 

 

 

 

 

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