Crawford Alumni Center
Tech Took Us There
Tennessee Tech alumnus to participate in Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer cycling event
Tennessee Tech alumnus Joe Brown, `91 marketing, will participate in Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer (C2C4C) next month.
Brown is one of more than 126 Bristol Myers Squibb employees selected to participate in C2C4C, where he and his fellow cyclists will pedal across the country to raise money for cancer research.
“At Bristol Myers Squibb, we are riding for the patients who suffer from cancer,” Brown said. “There are many, many out there who are fighting, will fight or have fought the good fight against this disease.”
And for Brown, the ride is personal.
“My mother passed away from ovarian cancer when I was just 12 years old,” Brown said. “It wasn’t a pretty battle. It was a long, stressful, devastating loss that you don’t wish on anyone.”
More recently, a close friend and colleague of Brown’s beat stage 4 colon cancer.
“Christy is a young mother, wife, daughter and sister,” Brown said. “She and her husband have three children. She was in excellent health, and out of nowhere she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. I helped her walk through that battle and supported her. She was victorious, and I am very excited to say that she is now surviving as a cancer-free individual.”
Brown says Christy’s resilience inspired him to participate in C2C4C.
“She rode last year, and she wanted me to ride this year,” Brown said. “I think so much of her – she’s such an inspiration – that I said, ‘I need to do this.’ This will be a challenge, this will be something new and this will make a small difference in raising funds for cancer research. And now I have another skill under my belt.”
Brown says he is not a lifelong cycling enthusiast; he got involved in the sport only recently – and specifically for C2C4C.
“We’ve been training since April,” Brown said. “It’s quite a bit of work and a big commitment time-wise. But it’s nothing compared to what those with cancer face.”
The ride began on Sept. 7 in Cannon Beach, Oregon, and will conclude on Oct. 3 in Long Branch, New Jersey. Brown and his team will anchor the relay on the ninth and final leg and will pedal for up to 80 miles each day for three days, from Pittsburgh to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Bristol Myers Squibb employees selected for C2C4C volunteer their personal time to fundraise and extensively train for five months. They set a goal to raise $1 million in support of the V Foundation for Cancer Research, and Bristol Myers Squibb will match contributions dollar-for-dollar, up to $500,000. Some of the riders have been diagnosed with cancer, while others are riding in honor of loved ones affected by the disease. Since 2014, the ride has raised more than $9.83 million for cancer research, and more than 760 Bristol Myers Squibb employees have participated in the cycling event.
Brown is the district business manager in the oncology division for Bristol Myers Squibb, a global biopharmaceutical company. He credits his marketing degree from Tennessee Tech with preparing him for a successful career in pharmaceutical sales.
“Tech presented real business scenarios in my upper-level courses,” Brown said. “The professors do their best to know the latest information and industry trends, and they bring that into the classroom. They try to simulate business environments through presentations and critiques. And it all comes back to learning how to communicate, because wherever you go, you’re always working with people. That is really the key to success.”
Brown adds that being a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity at Tech allowed him to gain leadership and networking skills.
“My experiences at Tennessee Tech and in Sigma Chi gave me some of the greatest leadership experiences,” Brown said. “I had the ability to work as a team, work with others and work with people who were different from myself. I learned how to build relationships and how to socialize, and that prepared me to be successful in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Brown says C2C4C is an opportunity to remember his mother and honor his colleague by doing something bigger than himself, while reflecting on the journey cancer patients face.
“I think it’s important, as a contributing individual in society, to give back,” Brown said. “When you’re young, you focus a lot on yourself. But as you age and gain experience and go through trials and tribulations, you discover the real value and real growth is in helping people. I get to do that through C2C4C by raising funds and providing support for the individuals I’m riding with and for. I think it makes you a better individual when you turn your focus outward to help others.”