Meet the MTeam: Xavier Sykes
Meet Xavier, one of the MTeam’s top fundraisers for Best Buddies International last year. He came all the way from Maryland to Massachusetts to participate in the Hyannis Port Best Buddies Challenge with us and cycled an impressive 50 miles. Amazingly, Xavier’s been involved with Best Buddies since middle school when he was vice president and then president of his chapter. Below, he talks about how this experience stuck with him, shares some of his top fundraising tips and tells us what makes the MTeam special.
MTEAM: When and why did you decide to join the MTeam?
XAVIER SYKES: I Joined the MTeam on February 2nd, 2018. I joined for a couple of reasons. First, I was going out of state to attend the Best Buddies Challenge Hyannis Port and I wanted to feel like I was a part of a team. Secondly, I loved seeing the team camaraderie at other Best Buddies Challenges. I was originally part of Team Audi when the Best Buddies Challenge was in Washington, D.C. Lastly, I looked into the many different teams and the MTeam stuck out to me. I loved the motto #MilesForSmiles.
MTEAM: Why is the MTeam and the Best Buddies mission important to you?
XS: The MTeam and Best Buddies’ mission is important to me because it involves and discusses inclusion for people who may not be your average everyday people. Personally, I have been involved with Best Buddies since my years in middle school (Vice President, President). Since then, I have gained a better knowledge of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With this knowledge, I am able to educate a broader audience about Best Buddies’ and the MTeam’s mission.
MTEAM: What’s one thing you’ve learned from being part of the MTeam community?
XS: One thing I learned from being a part of the MTeam is that we are all family. I came from Maryland to do the challenge and from the moment I met John, Greg, Laura, Meredith, and Candyce, they all made me feel like family and always helped me with the things I needed to be successful.
MTEAM: What makes the MTeam special? What would inspire people to join you?
XS: One of the main things that makes the MTeam stand out is all of the special amenities that we get to have like water bottles, t-shirts, cycling bibs/shorts, social media shout outs, etc. The MTeam sets a high standard in making sure their participants feel like they have the best team around. People would be inspired to join me when they see the pictures and donation follow ups that are posted daily.
MTEAM: Did you walk, run or ride in the 2018 Best Buddies Challenge? Describe the atmosphere of the event for us! What will you do 2019?
XS: I originally was scheduled to do 100 miles, but ended up doing 50 miles due to becoming sick along the ride. The atmosphere was beyond amazing. The beach scenery at the start of the ride was beautiful. The after party, dinner, and concert was beyond my imagination. Overall, this event was worth the flight down from Maryland. I look forward to doing the 50 miler again in 2019, with the hopes of changing my mind and doing the 100 miler.
MTEAM: Tell us about your training regime and how you prepare yourself for the physical challenge.
XS: Due to the short time span from registering to the actual ride date, I was unable to get full proper training in last year. What I did do though was cut off sodas from March to June. I saw a dramatic weight change. I also tried my best to get into the gym and do some indoor cycling. Looking forward, I intend on doing the same again.
MTEAM: Mentally, what helps you reach the finish line and keep pushing yourself toward your goals?
XS: Mentally, I think about all of the people that watch what I do and are motivated by me. I also think of the times where I had a buddy during my middle school program; he would not want me to give up. Finally, I think of all the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities all around the world who would want to see me do well.
MTEAM: How did you feel when you crossed the finish line last year?
XS: I felt exhausted and relieved. I also felt a sense of pride in that I did not give up. I loved seeing all of my MTeam family there at the finish line supporting me. Best feeling ever!
MTEAM: You were one of the MTeam’s top 10 fundraisers in 2018, raising over $2,000 for Best Buddies. Amazing work! Do you have any tips for new fundraisers joining us in 2019?
1. Use Social Media and hashtags (#MTeam, #MilesForSmiles, etc), post daily updates on how your fundraising is going, etc.
2. Partner with local coffee shops and see if you can place a fundraising tub in their establishment.
3. Attend any parades and set up a table.
4. Ask coworkers for donations.
5. Email, email, email!!! Follow up too!
6. Texting (we do it every day anyway).
MTEAM: Share an MTeam memory that has been the most powerful and inspiring for you so far.
XS: Meeting Meredith was a powerful moment for me. To see how happy she was and the energy around her was amazing. Also, the photo op with the whole team was pretty epic!
Find Xavier on Instagram: @akidnamedzay