VeloCity 2022: Why the Pete Correll Challenge is so important

VeloCity 2022 completed its fifth-annual cycling/running/walking event over the weekend with the Pete Correll Challenge. Riders, runners and walkers worked to raise funds for Grady Health System and support the mission to make health care accessible to all.

The inaugural competition, which is named after the late businessman who led the effort to save Grady in 2008, promotes fundraising for Grady. It’s also aimed at continuing the leadership legacy of the former chair of Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation the Grady Health Foundation.

ExploreVeloCity Atlanta 2022
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VeloCity Atlanta returned to the 8,000-acre Bouckaert Farm, where bike riders made their entrance.

Credit: Clint Alexander

VeloCity Atlanta returned to the 8,000-acre Bouckaert Farm, where bike riders made their entrance.

Credit: Clint Alexander

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VeloCity Atlanta returned to the 8,000-acre Bouckaert Farm, where bike riders made their entrance.

Credit: Clint Alexander

Credit: Clint Alexander

The competition acknowledged winners in the three categories below.

  • Team Raising the Most Money: Team Jim Durrett, president of the Buckhead Coalition
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Jim Durrett
  • Largest Team of Participants: Georgia Department of Community Health Commissioner’s Crew

Ahead of the charity ride/run/walk, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke to John Haupert, president, and CEO of Grady Health System who was Correll’s mentee and friend.

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John Haupert, president, and CEO of Grady Health System.

Credit: Provided

John Haupert, president, and CEO of Grady Health System.

Credit: Provided

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John Haupert, president, and CEO of Grady Health System.

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

Q: What inspired the VeloCity Correll Challenge?

A: Pete Correll made a generational impact on Grady, from the early 2000s until we lost him last year. Leaders at Georgia-Pacific, where he was CEO for 13 years, came to us with the idea for this new challenge as a way to honor his legacy. He was always seeking new ways to grow support for our health system — and this was a perfect addition to VeloCity, which was started during his tenure as chair of the Grady Health Foundation board of directors.

Q: Why is this important to include this year?

A: Including this in 2022 was meaningful for two reasons. First, we are nearing the anniversary of Pete’s death in 2021, and while he cannot be with us in person, there is no doubt he is keeping an eye on our cyclists and runners. Second, as a safety net hospital, Grady operates on a very slim financial margin. The costs of COVID-19 and the ongoing nursing labor shortage have taken a significant toll, making fundraising even more important.

Q: How important is it to you to have philanthropic support for Grady through this challenge?

A: Philanthropic support for Grady is critical. Donations received through this challenge or any of our other fundraising channels help us provide high-quality, compassionate, equitable care to our patients. On any given day, Grady sees thousands of patients, many of whom have nowhere else to turn for care. We cannot give our patients the comprehensive care they need or ensure the outcomes they deserve without private support.

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Grady employee and Grady baby Avis Cuff sings the national anthem prior to the start of the 9-mile and 5K runs.

Credit: Clint Alexander

Grady employee and Grady baby Avis Cuff sings the national anthem prior to the start of the 9-mile and 5K runs.

Credit: Clint Alexander

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Grady employee and Grady baby Avis Cuff sings the national anthem prior to the start of the 9-mile and 5K runs.

Credit: Clint Alexander

Credit: Clint Alexander

Q: Can you talk about your relationship with Pete Correll?

A: This is still a tough one for me. As our board chair, Pete was my boss — he hired me to come to Grady — but he was also one of the best mentors I’ve ever had and a really wonderful friend. I miss him greatly.

ExploreGo Guide: VeloCity Atlanta 2022

Q: What do you want riders, runners and walkers to know about how Pete Correll impacted Grady?

A: Simply put — Grady would not still be serving our community had it not been for the leadership and determination of Pete Correll. He understood not only the critical role we play in healthcare, teaching and research, but also the lesser-known impact that Grady has on Atlanta’s economy. He drew upon his professional expertise as well as his personal connections to ensure that Grady would not only survive but grow into the even stronger, more impactful institution it is today.

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Runners and walkers prepare for the 5K run.

Credit: Clint Alexander

Runners and walkers prepare for the 5K run.

Credit: Clint Alexander

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Runners and walkers prepare for the 5K run.

Credit: Clint Alexander

Credit: Clint Alexander

Q: How do the inaugural Correll Challenge winners exemplify Pete Correll’s legacy of leadership?

A: It is really perfect that Jim Durrett, president of the Buckhead Coalition, led the team that won this year’s challenge. Like Pete, Jim’s commitment to our community is both personal and professional, he is highly respected by his peers, and he understands that Atlanta truly cannot live without Grady. We are grateful that he was “all in” this year — he’s set the bar high for 2023!

Q: In what ways do you see the challenge being integrated in years to come?

A: As VeloCity grows, so will the Correll Challenge and, as a result, fundraising for Grady. Ideally, it will become a real point of pride for teams and companies to win or place —and by doing so not only would they be honoring Pete, they would be making a real and tangible impact on our patients and providers. Every donation to Grady — be it $5 or $5 million — strengthens our hospital and our community.

Q: Is there anything you want to see from the event going forward?

Of course, we want to see continued growth in participation and fundraising. We hope that over time, everyone will know to look forward to the first Saturday in May as the day we come together to celebrate and support Grady. Most importantly, we hope that will lead to a greater appreciation and civic pride for an amazing and critical Atlanta institution.

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