BFCU 35 miles challenge

Members of Border Federal Credit Union’s team discuss, via video chat, the South Texas 35 Miles in 30 Days Challenge. Pictured in the top row, from left, are Vanessa Valero, Gina McNeal, and Roxana Martinez. Pictured in the center row, from left, are Monica Jaquez, Martha Gonzalez and Rosa Chavarria. Pictured in the bottom row, from left, are Leopoldo Vaquera and Jocelyn Ramos. Not pictured are Mayra Doñez, Tiffany Mallare and Abram Rodriguez.

A group of dedicated Border Federal Credit Union employees didn’t let a little thing like a pandemic stop them from working to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

Eleven employees from Border Federal Credit Union (BFCU) branches in Del Rio, Laughlin Air Force Base and Eagle Pass recently teamed up to take part in the American Cancer Society’s south Texas 35 Miles in 30 Days Challenge in October. By the time the challenge was done, the group had walked more than 480 miles and helped raise more than $64,000 as part of the South Texas group.

The group included Gina G. McNeal, Monica Jaquez, Rosa Chavarria, Leopoldo Vaquera, Roxanna Martinez, Jocelyn Ramos, Tiffany Mallare, Vanessa Valero, Martha Gonzalez, Mayra Doñez and Abram Rodriguez.

McNeal, director of financial education for BFCU, was one of the participants in the challenge. She explained that at BFCU there has always been a strong passion to help the American Cancer Society and that the office usually contributes heavily to the annual Relay for Life. However, when this year’s Relay for Life was canceled due to the threat of COVID-19 the group looked for other ways to help.

“When it comes to raising funds, we’ve always been able to rely on the employees. We would have snack sales for the co-workers and offer those goods to the members, but we couldn’t do that this year either,” McNeal said.

When the group learned of the 35 miles challenge, they were all in.

“All of us did the miles in our own way. One of the participants bought an elliptical machine for her home since she’s a single mother and has two little ones at home. Another of our participants is currently going through her own battle with breast cancer. She walked around her neighborhood when she could,” McNeal said. “I started walking outside on the Argarita trail the first few days, but then I came down with COVID and it knocked me out that first full week of October. Once I was recovered enough I knew I still wanted to be a part of this, so I used a treadmill to back into it.”

McNeal said that Vaquera was the group’s top contributor. An avid walker/runner already, McNeal said Vaquera turned it on as part of the challenge.

“He did 102.9 miles in 30 days. Prior to this he said he was averaging about two miles a day as part of his regular exercise routine. During the challenge, he went above four miles per day, a lot more than what he normally did.”

In a press release, the team explained that each person walking had their own reasons to participate. “Many walked in support of and honoring a mother, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, a friend, a coworker; of those we honored and walked for; some of them won the fight, others did not however they will never be forgotten,” the release stated.

McNeal said her reasons for participating were on a personal level.

“I have two girls that I hope never get it. We also have two employees – one who has gone through it and is a survivor and one that is going through it right now. I wanted to walk for all of them,” McNeal said.