Ken Mallernee, an attorney for Taylor English Duma, is riding in his first AV200 this year after being encouraged to do so by good friend (and this year’s Senior Ride Director) Leon Morales. Ken has pulled out all the stops for AV200 – not only is he deeply connected to our mission and enthused about riding, Ken also serves on the AV200 Steering Committee, has gotten his firm to support our ride as a corporate sponsor, and is currently one of our top fundraisers. Read on to learn more about Ken’s story, why this ride is important, and how he came to join the AV200 family.
Why are you participating in AV200? It is a great cause and a great way to give back. I have particularly enjoyed my work with corporate sponsorships and on the steering committee. We have a very passionate board and committee and have a lot of fun in the process.
What makes it personal for you? My best friend passed away from AIDS complications in 2001. It was a tough loss for me, changed my outlook on life, and helped to lead me down a different path. Doing the ride is to some extent a tribute but also helps me to do something to help find a cure for AIDS. It cannot bring my friend back, but the work of the Emory Vaccine Center can help save other lives so I want to be a part of that.
How did Taylor English become involved as a sponsor? It was really very simple – I asked and they said yes because they want to be involved in the work we are doing. It also helped that one of my colleagues, Scott Porter, is one of the founders of the AV200, and that both of us were riding. Taylor English is not your typical law firm. It is a group of experienced attorneys who are entrepreneurs and wanted to create a different working environment than what they had at other law firms or corporate positions. Taylor English is a full service law firm that in its 7 year existence has grown from 4 to 118 attorneys and now has an office in Savannah in addition to Atlanta. I am very fortunate to be a part of the Taylor English family. It is the first place I have worked where I can truly be myself. Marc Taylor sets the tone for that environment, but it is also the general attitude of the firm. We work hard as well as enjoy what we are doing. I have been able to convince some of my colleagues to ride this year and am working on others. The firm wanted several of us to ride because they have embraced support of the cause and its riders. (ed note: way to go, Taylor English! Thanks for your continued support & we’ll see you at the finish line!)
Did you do any unique fundraising activities for the event? Not yet, but it is early. For personal donations, I have reached out or will reach out to many people I know. I am a naturally driven person so it is not a huge stretch to tackle this project with such competitiveness. It goes with the profession. However, I have been overwhelmed by the response so far. It shows how well received this cause is to so many people. Plus the commitment to ride 200 miles encourages people to give as well.
Have you participated in other cycling events? I cycled a lot in my twenties, but never long distance or as part of an event. Since that has been a few years, it is a bit of a challenge to get back into cycling and do an endurance ride, but one that I look forward to doing. Skiing and cycling have always been the two sports I enjoyed participating in the most. I am not a natural athlete and a bit clumsy at times so I am out of my comfort zone in both sports, but the adrenaline rush I get from each is intoxicating and keeps me going.
What aspects do you look forward to about the ride? I do not have lofty goals for my first time around. I want to finish the ride without falling off my bike. Bret Busch is a great teacher and motivator and has convinced me that I can do the whole 200 miles so I am giving it a shot. I will be riding with some good friends so it will make training and the journey a lot of fun. Three of my fellow teammates and I won best group costume at a Halloween party this past year. We are hoping to get the same award at the AV200. (ed note: you might have some stiff competition, Ken… once word gets out about this costume contest…)