The Banana Slugs are a team of Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital employees who take caring for children to the next level.

Who are the Banana Slugs?

Together with their friends and family, this will be the third year they’ve gathered to fundraise and cycle hundreds of miles for kids through Mary Bridge Children’s Courage.

The team is captained by Brett Nirider, who has been a physical therapist at the Mary Bridge Good Samaritan Children’s Therapy Unit (CTU) for more than 30 years. He’s been a cyclist for even longer. 

“I rode Courage for the first time a couple years ago when it was a one-day ride, but I was the only one from CTU who did it that year,” Brett says. “I had a great time, but I was kind of lonely. So, I thought I needed to get a team together.”

Brett reached out to his wife, who is also a physical therapist at the CTU, and all of their colleagues. He even managed to wrangle a few first-time riders like Ashley O’Hare who didn’t even have a bike.

“Brett definitely persuaded me, so I bought a bike and really got into it,” Ashley says. “It was really nice to be able to do something with our coworkers outside of work. I really enjoy their company, I really like them. But it's hard to get together when there's not a big goal. So this gave us motivation.”

Although the exact origins of the unconventional team name have been forgotten, they still live by and embrace their motto: “We are slugs and we’re slow!”

“We gravitated toward the name because it was fun and silly,” Makenzie Deaborn, Mary Bridge Children’s Occupational Therapist and Banana Slugs team member, says. “I mean, working in pediatrics, that's something that we all gravitate towards is not taking anything too seriously.”

Makenzie isn’t exaggerating; this team is all about laughs and having a good time even through the toughest parts of the Courage ride. They are looking forward to another fun year of supporting the kids they work with every day. 

Will you join them? Courage accepts riders of all experience levels. As Brett likes to say, “There is no hierarchy when you’re wearing bike shorts!”

Learn more at ridewithcourage.org.