The reason for the season: A message from the Massey Challenge chair

Worth Bugg, chair of the Massey Challenge, gives us a much-needed reminder of what the 10K is really about.

Every year, the city goes into a “OMG THE 10K IS COMING” panic, followed by a buzz of excitement, followed by another panic. It’s the largest event of its kind in the entire nation, and the whole town shuts down. Chances are, 50% of your friends and relations are participating in some way, and the result feels like a huge party, where we congratulate sweaty individuals before handing them bananas and sending them home to nap.

But underneath all of this is an opportunity to turn the event into something even bigger. The Massey Challenge gives you the opportunity to raise money that goes directly to the VCU Massey Cancer Center, one of the leading cancer centers in the country.1

Worth Bugg, 2015 Chair of the Massey Challenge contacted us last week with the following letter, which made us think about the 10K in a different way. And, honestly, made us consider more closely what our participation might mean and could mean for suffering people. It’s just a morning for us, but it could literally save a life. That makes us feel simultaneously heavy and buoyant at the same time.

— ∮∮∮ —

Cancer. It always seems to be a tough word to talk about. Even as I type that word, it makes me revisit how it has touched my life, and I bet you feel the same, reading it. It could be a family member, friend, co-worker, it might even be a story on the news you saw that affects you. Sometimes you just sit and think about the children that have to fight this terrible disease. What an awful word. Cancer.

I used to sit around and have those feelings, but not act on them at all. This disease affects over 40,000 people in Virginia alone each year. How could I do anything to help out the fight? I’m just a single person. Thankfully, I pushed myself outside my comfort zone four years ago in an attempt to make a difference, and the experience has been life-changing.

The Massey Challenge started as a fundraiser basically in my back yard–a movement that raises funds for the VCU Massey Cancer Center and is the official charitable partner of the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k. I live one block off Monument and I always saw the yellow shirts on race day, so I thought, “Why not jump in and see how it feels?”

Four years later, I’m extremely proud to be the Chair of the 2015 Massey Challenge. People often ask me why I started to participate, which is an understandable question. But the answer always seems to change for me depending on the day and who I am thinking about right then and there.

That answer could be “Cancer affected my family.” My grandfather Poppop, my grandmother Granna, and my cousin Libby all have battled cancer in recent years. You could say, “Because cancer affected my friends.” Meg Rock, Kaity Kasper, Jen Mott, Billy Chenault, Melissa Hollerith, Julie Dillon, and JJ Marshall have all battled and beat cancer.

This year however, my answer changed. I realized that the Massey Challenge is a movement. It is a movement towards funding one of the top cancer institutions in the country, VCU Massey Cancer Center. It is for all the people that I have met during the past four years who have shared their story, their sorrow, their happiness, their part of the movement with me. The people at the 10K expo who said to make sure to wear sunscreen when explaining their skin cancer, or the little girl who wanted to write her own name on the board after beating cancer at the age of three. The people I talked to at the YMCA training teams who want to share why they wear their Massey t-shirt, or the simple “I love your shirt” greeting you get from another Challenger in training. It is also standing next to the hospital bed of a loved one losing his battle against this disease.

When all of that happens, you don’t simply participate. You are a part of a movement, and when you are a part of the Massey Challenge, you take part ownership in that challenge. You eat, breathe, and live the Challenge every day.

There is no simple reason behind why I participate in the Massey Challenge. I believe I am the Massey Challenge, and so is everyone else that participates. We are the movement. We are going to fight cancer, and we will win.

Worth Bugg
2015 Massey Challenge Chair

Pictured above 2015 Massey Challenge Chair, Worth Bugg, and co-Chair and cancer survivor, Jen Mott

  1. Disclosure: the Massey Challenge is an advertiser on RVANews, but we do not base our editorial content on those relationships. 
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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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