On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, Carla Swart was tragically killed. While training in her native country of South Africa, she was hit by a truck. Swart was a talented rider, the first collegiate rider to win titles in mountain bike, track, road racing and cyclo cross. She was very much a rising cycling star and signed with the top rated women’s team, HTC-Highroad this year. The Ride to Remember was organized to celebrate the life of Swart and to pay tribute to her as a person.
“Kristin Keim was the catalyst behind the ride. She contacted Lisa (Hunt), Laura (Weislo) and myself. It just took off from there,” said Katheryn Curi Mattis. “We were going to do this all on Facebook. We decided to get Sportsbase online to help with the registration. We got the donation set up through Carla’s Circle and through Lee’s McRae.”
“I think some of this has not hit me,” continued Curi Mattis. “My last memory of her was pre-World race in Australia and then seeing her at World’s. We lost a valuable member of the cycling community. Her vibrancy on and off the bike had an impact on me. I am sure it was the same for other racers. It’s sad to be doing this. It’s great to see the turnout of people coming to celebrate her life. What is so amazing to me is to see the strength of the cycling community. There are people here that may not have met her, but since she is one of us, they are here. That is just amazing.”
Lisa Hunt, Team TIBCO DS, spoke to the group before the ride. “Last year I was the director of Team Vera Bradley Foundation. Carla was one of my riders on the team. I always admired her….that cool red hair. She got the name, Ginger Ninja, last year. She was an incredible girl. Many of us have shed tears for her. Today we are not mourning her loss. Today we celebrate her life. She was one of the most amazing bike racers around and one of the most giving human beings I have ever met. She would fly in for a race at 3:00 in the morning and would be ready at 7:00 to race. Never complained. She would give it 300%. Carla lives on in all of us. This ride is for her. This ride is to share our memories of her. We want to celebrate Carla’s life.”
There was no cost to participate in the Ride to Remember, but participants were encouraged to make a donation to one of two funds set up on her behalf. Either Carla’s Circle, a fund set up by HTC-Highroad (http://www.highroadsports.com/carlas_circle), where proceeds go directly to the Swart family, or to the Lees-McRae Scholarship Fund.
The Carla Swart Memorial Scholarship will be awarded annually to a female cyclist who demonstrates a love for the sport and exhibits great promise as a cyclist. Checks should be made out to Lees-McRae College (note Carla Swart Scholarship in the memo line) and mailed to the Office of Advancement, P.O. Box 128, Banner Elk, NC 28604.
Thanks to Specialized Bicycles for their support today. Specialized Bicycles donated money for each registered rider and prizes for the Ride to Remember raffle. Huge thanks also go out to the Ride to Remember organizers Kristin Keim, Team TIBCO DS Lisa Hunt, Webcor Alto Velo’s Katheryn Curi Mattis, and Cyclingnews’ Laura Weislo.
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