Cyclist Spotlight: Jeffrey Hendricks

george-and-jeff-hendricks-pic.jpgJeffrey Hendricks, MD, is a MSU College of Human Medicine graduate who started Rize Performance, a sports nutrition company. This year, his company is a sponsor of the MSU Gran Fondo and Dr. Hendricks is participating for the first time!

Q: What are looking forward to most at this year’s ride?

Several things! First, I heard the pace is really fast- 26-28 mph on the flats-  I am looking forward to seeing if I can hang on, and if so, for how long!

Secondly, I’m really hoping other docs from MSU College of Human Medicine are riding. I would love to meet and chat with them during and after the ride.

Also, I can’t wait to see family and friends that I haven’t seen in a while (as I currently reside in North Carolina).

Jeffrey Hendricks, MDQ: How are you connected to MSU?

I was born and raised in Grand Rapids and attended MSU College of Human Medicine.  While I attended the rival school Univ of Mich undergrad, my friends from high school attended MSU and I spent many weekends enjoying the tailgating, live music at Small Planet, and other fun stuff in East Lansing.  I have many great memories from campus!  My medical school years were a little more subdued, but I still enjoyed mountain biking around Rose Lake to decompress.

Q: Tell us about your company and how it started.

Rize Performance is a Sports Nutrition company focused on producing research supported, innovative new products for endurance athletics.  It started when I was a triathlete and felt there was a lack of good products available for me to use. I have always been a little obsessive about trying to improve performance. This is partly due to the fact I am not a gifted athlete, but I love to compete. I always need to work a little harder to perform well.

M&M Labs is my sister company which designs custom nutraceutical products for other businesses around the USA and throughout the world. Both companies are the distillation of my personal passions, medical education and experience, and research history. It keeps me pretty busy but honestly, I feel like I am retired and just doing the things that I love. I consider that feeling a gift and appreciate it every day.

Q: Do you have a connection to skin cancer? What is your motivation to get involved with the MSU Gran Fondo?

I would say I have a strong connection to cancer in general. Several direct family members including my sister and father both have bravely, and successfully fought cancer- twice! I watched with humility and admiration as my sister courageously fought off a significant breast cancer. Not only did she fight it and win, she wrote a bill to help women get more aggressively screened if they have dense breast tissue. The bill passed through the house and senate and was recently signed into law in Michigan.  She did this during chemotherapy, which sounds unbelievable, but to those who know her this is not that surprising. She also suffered from a non-melanoma skin cancer and had it successfully removed.  She has stayed strong and active with aggressive nutrition, complementary medicine, and traditional treatments. She is a big advocate for women, women’s health, and cancer prevention.  In my opinion her diagnosis, her recovery, and her activism has become a gift to the cancer community. I truly believe that due to her efforts, many women will now be diagnosed with cancer with plenty of time for a cure.

My father on the other hand, is 76 and has recovered from two different cancers.  He tells me he feels great, and he is an amazing energetic and healthy person. He wonders when he is going to feel like he is 76.  We joke that he gets cancer every once in awhile but other than that is perfectly healthy.

So I have plenty of reasons to be involved both personally and professionally, and I also believe that consistent and intense exercise such as cycling has powerful preventive benefits. I love to ride!

Thanks for joining this year’s MSU Gran Fondo, Dr. Hendricks!

Cyclist Spotlight: Andy Benes

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For Andy Benes, cycling is a family affair. Saturday mornings are typically spent riding with his daughter and son from their home in Jenison, through Millenium Park, to the Blue Bridge downtown and over the river.

He got involved with the ride through Priority Health, where he works as a Medical Economics leader. The health insurance provider is a premier sponsor for the MSU Gran Fondo and has been involved since the ride began. Andy is captain of one of Priority Health’s two MSU Gran Fondo teams.

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During his first two Gran Fondos, Andy rode solo. Now his fifteen year old daughter Katelyn rides the Fondo, with this year’s event being her third time on the 40-mile route. This year, they hope to improve their time by 30 minutes and increase their fundraising, as well. The Benes family enjoys the event so much they schedule their vacations around the ride.

The MSU Gran Fondo’s mission is personal for Andy. He rides in memory of his friend Jerry, who died of skin cancer in February 2016.

“We developed a friendship while working together at Priority Health,” said Benes. After his retirement, Jerry was diagnosed with skin cancer. “His treatment was long and difficult, with complications along the way.”

Every year during the MSU Gran Fondo, Andy reconnects with Jerry’s family. He also reaches out to family and friends, asking for their support in the fight against skin cancer. To date, Andy has raised more than $7,500 for MSU’s skin cancer awareness, prevention and research. Click here to support his fundraising for 2018.

On June 23, Andy will ride the MSU Gran Fondo for a fifth time in honor of Jerry.

 

Cyclist Spotlight: Mark Bryson

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Mark Bryson’s love of cycling came from an nontraditional place – a three-year stint in Jamaica while serving in the Peace Corps’ Green Initiative sector.

“I was provided a Fuji Adventure 2.0 bicycle to get around the community,” said Bryson. “I rode almost every single day and learned how to maintain the bike not by choice, but by necessity.”

When he returned to West Michigan, Mark got involved with the local scene through the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance, the local IMBA Chapter and volunteering.

“It’s such a close-knit, welcoming and supportive community that I cannot imagine my time in Grand Rapids without it.”

The 33-year-old outdoorsman is a brewer at New Holland Brewing. Through the brewery’s sponsorship of the MSU Gran Fondo, Bryson will be riding the 80-mile route on June 23.

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Mark Bryson, upper left, in his first MSU Gran Fondo in 2015

 

It won’t be his first MSU Gran Fondo, but it will certainly be one to celebrate. In 2016, Mark suffered a bad ACL injury. Luckily, he made a full recovery after surgery and will ride his second 80-mile Gran Fondo in June.

Mark’s favorite part of the event is the camaraderie and support of fellow riders.

“Even a small donation of one’s time and money has a positive impact,” said Bryson. “If you love cycling then I’m sure you’ll be able to find a distance that fits your skill level to make the day an enjoyable experience all around.”

We wish Mark the best of luck at the MSU Gran Fondo, his first gravel race in April and his first marathon in May!