I've joined Pedal for Pat, as one of the "The Summitt Cyclists," and will be embarking on the 1,098-mile cycling fundraiser in October benefitting The Pat Summitt Foundation.
WHY RIDE? As the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s hits home for me. I witnessed my beloved coach die from this horrible disease. Publically, Pat fought Alzheimer’s with the same courage and relentless competitive spirit of leaving no stone unturned. Just as she did throughout her lifetime while winning games, capturing the hearts of millions and altering the lives of people like me, forever. If Pat were alive today, she would make this ride – ALL IN – for any one of her players, the 161 of us who were so fortunate to have played for such an amazing force of a woman.
For Pat, I am riding 1,098 miles out of my comfort zone. And to that exact point, all 161 of us were pushed out of our comfort zones by Pat to equip us with the tools to become successful in life.
A few years before Pat’s death, she looked at me in the eyes and said, “Michelle, I am proud of you for starting your own business and becoming a successful entrepreneur. It is amazing what you have been able to do outside of basketball, outside of your comfort zone.” To the woman who gave her heart every day but was not one to give compliments easily, this was Pat’s way of closing a circle in the life of one of her players. She wasn’t just there for us during our basketball careers, she was in it with us for life.
When it comes to honoring someone whom you loved, while bringing forth their infectious spirit so that people can see them through you, this is why I am riding…
To raise awareness for Alzheimer’s…yes.
To face a physical challenge greater than any in my life… yes.
To have the courage to fight through pain to get to victory…yes.
To inspire so many people who can’t physically ride…yes.
I am riding for you.
I am riding for Pat.
I am riding for Alzheimer’s.
Together, we will win. ALL IN.
Michelle Brooke-Marciniak, Co-Founder of SHEEX®, Inc.
Their beachhead into the marketplace was performance fabric bed sheets; they have since expanded into an entire SHEEX® Sleep System. In 2009, Michelle and Susan introduced SHEEX® on stage at the highly touted Fortune’s Most Powerful Business Women Conference as ground-breaking, emerging entrepreneurs. In 2012, they were recognized by Ernst & Young as “Winning Women”, a prestigious honor celebrating the top female entrepreneurs in America.
Michelle made her entrepreneurial debut having already distinguished herself as one of the most outstanding point guards ever to play women’s basketball, starring at the University of Tennessee under the late-legendary coach Pat Summitt from 1993-96. As an Academic All-American and a fiery leader on the court, Michelle drove Tennessee to the 1995 and 1996 NCAA title games, as well as captained the National Championship team in 1996, and was named the NCAA Tournament Most Valuable Player. In 2012, Tennessee honored her extraordinary basketball career and contributions to UT women’s athletics by inducting her into the Lady Vol Hall of Fame. Post-collegiate career, the former unanimous National High School Player of the Year and 10-year veteran of USA Basketball, spent six years as a professional basketball player, completing her career with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm in 2002. Michelle stepped into the coaching arena in 2003 as an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina, where she inked back-to-back top 10 nationally ranked recruiting classes.
Given her entrepreneurial skills, Michelle has become a highly sought-after speaker and panelist. She serves on the Board of the Pat Summitt Foundation and voluntarily performed many of the late-Summitt’s speaking engagements while her former coach battled early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. Michelle serves as an Advisory Board member of Ernst & Young’s Women Athletes Business Network, Champions for Americas Future, as well as a Strategic Advisor of Space for Humanity. She is a member of the 2014 Class of Henry Crown Fellows of The Aspen Institute, which seeks to develop the next generation of community-spirited leaders.