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Best Buddies International is stepping away as a professional cycling team sponsor.
The nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for inclusive living and one-to-one friendships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities had been the sponsor of the Best Buddies Racing Team for both the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
In that time, the team, which participated in the American Criterium Cup racing series, had a number of successes, winning 30 races, while also participating off the bike in the team sponsor’s Best Buddies program.
“I am extremely proud of what the Best Buddies Racing team was able to accomplish over the past two years,” said Michael Hernandez, the team’s captain. “The team’s on-the-bike success speaks for itself, but what touched my heart the most is how every one of our team members fully embraced the mission of Best Buddies and truly cared about each of the participants who came to support us at the races.”
It wasn’t all positive headlines for the team, however. Hernandez was involved in a fighting incident earlier this season with the L39ION of Los Angeles team at the Salt Lake Criterium that garnered attention the team and its sponsors certainly would have preferred to do without. Hernandez is currently serving a three-month suspension.
Cycling had been important to Best Buddies before sponsoring this team. The 33-year-old nonprofit holds a series of fundraising cycling events called Best Buddies Challenges and also hosts Best Buddies Breakaway cycling camps.
“Over the past two years, the Best Buddies Racing team has created a strong foundation built on inclusion and sheer passion to increase awareness about the Best Buddies mission, while expanding the organization’s efforts to open up the world of cycling to a new generation of riders,” said Anthony K. Shriver, founder, chairman and CEO of Best Buddies International.
In a press release, Best Buddies says that it is changing its focus to “building a more inclusive cycling community by engaging diverse, prospective and new riders, while promoting our mission of one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”