My name is Tommy Buckman, and I am the direct market sales account manager for MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology in Gastonia, N.C. But this is not a story about me. This is a story about teamwork and commitment. Those characteristics describe everything we do for our customers, and they also describe what we do for our communities.

Our story begins with my good friend and work colleague JD Bush. JD manages the Manufacturing Support Services (ERP Data Entry for Production) for WIX Filters. JD’s Dad, Mr. Bush, was a truck driver in the Gastonia, N.C., area. Some 30 years ago, Mr. Bush’s company was approached by the MS (multiple sclerosis) Society of the Carolinas to drive large trucks for their fundraising events.

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JD soon began helping, and he recruited me to ride along. Little did I know of the workout JD was volunteering me for in these events. My first event was “Breakaway to the Beach,” where bicycle riders rode 180 miles from Charlotte, N.C. to Myrtle Beach, S.C. The MS Society quickly realized that JD and his commitment and energy were a commodity they needed for more events, and so they recruited both of us to work a Walk-a-thon at Tybee Island, Georgia, and another bike ride in New Bern, N.C.

JD had the great idea to form our own WIX Bike Team. With the help of Butch Keeter, an avid bike rider, they recruited other riders including: Jolene Hopper from Finance, John Holland from Engineering, Thee Lloyd from Quality, and a few friends. We presented a sponsorship plan to MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology HR Director Kay Teixiera, who graciously agreed to sponsor the team. The riders wore great looking WIX Team jerseys and started practicing together nearly a year in advance, riding after work and weekends as time allowed.

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This fall, we took off on the journey. JD, Butch, John, Jolene, Thee, and two other friends and I met down in New Bern, N.C. for the bike ride. Members of our WIX team rode 50 miles, while others made it the 100 miles! Afterwards, we enjoyed an awards ceremony with good food, beer, a local band, singing and dancing. The WIX Team, with the slogan “Filtering out MS,” won the award for Best Rookie Team, raising about $4,000 for their first outing. The two-day event continued on Sunday, with one of our team members riding 50 miles, three going 75 miles, and two doing the 100 miles again. It was a proud day for the WIX Bike Team, and the MS Society raised an impressive $1.9 million by the event.

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Our WIX Bike Team is looking forward to 2017, and looking for new ways to get more MANN+HUMMEL folks involved to create a larger Team with more money being raised for a worthwhile cause! It’s very clear that MANN+HUMMEL shares the same passion as WIX in supporting our community, and we’re excited for our greater potential in fighting MS. Thanks for your support.