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First 'Cycle to Soar' fundraiser set for Saturday in Billings

Proceeds support Eagle Mount Billings
Josie and Rodney
Posted at 5:31 PM, Mar 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-29 10:46:51-04

BILLINGS - On Saturday, the Billings YMCA is hosting the first Cycle to Soar event with all of the proceeds going directly toward the nonprofit Eagle Mount Billings.

The event will feature teams riding stationary bikes in 20-minute heats. There are both competitive and non-competitive divisions, but most importantly, everyone is raising money through pledges.

The idea came from long-time volunteer Josie Gannon, who first helped at Eagle Mount when she was just 12 years old.

Josie Eagle Mount

"My aunt was the executive director then, and so she would pull all of me and my cousins to come do various volunteer activities," Gannon said. "And I think I just fell in love with it right there."

Eagle Mount is a nonprofit that raises money to pay for people with disabilities to participate in activities that they might not otherwise get to do, such as swimming, skiing, cycling, rock climbing and others.

Gannon recalls the moment she met Landon, a boy in a wheelchair, at the exact time she knew she had a passion for helping people.

"He was like, 'Are you going to get me out of this chair and roll me down this hill?' And I'm like 12 or 13, so I'm like, 'How? No way,'" Gannon said. "And he just looked at me and was like, 'You're not going to break me. Are you going to help me or not?'"

From that moment on, Gannon was hooked. She volunteered with Eagle Mount year-round until she graduated high school.

“It helped challenge a lot of my biases that I had at the time as a kid," Gannon said. "So, the more I pushed with Eagle Mount, the more it kind of pushed my boundaries and my understanding of what disabilities were."

The program served to be invaluable to Gannon's development as a woman. She wound up becoming a physical therapist and recently moved back to Billings. Immediately, she was back volunteering for Eagle Mount.

Eagle Mount rock climbing

"It fills your cup. That's what I always tell people," Gannon said. "I think sometimes adding another thing to your plate, like volunteering after work can be hard. But I've never walked out of an Eagle Mount program and felt tired."

Around the same time Gannon moved back to Billings, her aunt, Lynn Mullowney Cabrera, returned to her role as Eagle Mount's executive director.

"When you are involved in an organization like Eagle Mount, it's not an 8 to 5. You don't just shut it off at the end of the day," Mullowney Cabrera said. "You become a part of the families you serve."

But this time, it was her niece who had an idea for the future of the program.

"When she brought this idea, all of us on the board were trying to wrap our brains around, what does this mean?" Mullowney Cabrera said. "But we realized that this is an event that is unparalleled in our community in terms of being a fresh new innovative something. But it also has great opportunity to grow."

After months of hard work, the event is set for Saturday. Gannon is looking forward to seeing her story come full circle.

"Being able to actually share it and watch it come to fruition and watch some of those donations come in," Gannon said. "I mean, I can't even describe it."

Her aunt couldn't be more proud.

"We'll leave a meeting, and she'll go, 'I continue to learn so much from you,'" Mullowney Cabrera said. "And I think, 'What you don't see is that I'm learning so much from you. Seeing the joy on her face and the pride on her face for creating something so exciting. Yeah, it's going to be pretty special."

Q2 has a team participating in the event. Click here to donate in support of the team.