When Guillermo Pous Fernández first signed up to participate in Great Cycle Challenge (GCC), he never predicted that he’d eventually raise tens of thousands of dollars each year — he just enjoyed cycling.
Thanks to a GCC Facebook ad in 2017, Guillermo learned that he could ride his bike while making a difference. GCC is an annual cycling challenge that dedicates its funds to Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF). This fundraising initiative has solidified GCC as one of the biggest cycling events in the United States and provided over $63 million toward innovative and life-saving research for childhood cancer since 2015.
By matching every donation he received, Guillermo was able to raise a couple of thousand dollars during the first two years of his GCC involvement. But this all changed in 2019 after Guillermo’s own cancer diagnosis.
Guillermo traveled to Mexico for treatment, staying there for several months until the COVID-19 pandemic began. Without finishing the rest of treatment, he returned home to Houston to reunite with family before borders closed. He focused on regaining everyday skills like eating by the mouth and physical movement.
All the while, Guillermo couldn’t forget about the children he saw in the hospital who were struggling with their own cancer battles — many of whom did not survive because they didn’t have the means to continue treatment. So, when GCC rolled around again in 2020, Guillermo vowed to go bigger than ever with his fundraising. An intellectual property and entertainment lawyer, he saw an opportunity to use his vast network to drive change.
“I realized I had to ask favors to my clients or people in the industry — actors, writers, producers, singers, journalists, sculptors, musicians and more — to record a video and encourage people to help,” he said. And like in previous years, Guillermo committed to matching every dollar donated to him.
This formula proved to be the perfect mix: in 2020, Guillermo finished GCC in first place by raising $43,335 and riding 1,042 miles. In 2021 and 2022, Guillermo applied the same method and reunited more than 140 celebrities. It held strong — $46,196 and $49,656 strong, to be exact.
His admirable efforts even caught the attention of his city. Mayor Sylvester Turner recently declared Aug. 15 “Guillermo Pous Day” in Houston, Texas.
Beyond the funds raised and miles biked, Guillermo said participating in GCC has strengthened his professional relationships. He feels he now has substantial relationships with many colleagues and clients beyond his day-to-day work.
The same is also true for his personal relationships. Given Guillermo’s own cancer journey, his family finds joy in witnessing his continued success with GCC. His two daughters act as his community managers, handling all of the social media aspects. Even Guillermo’s 92-year-old grandmother gets involved every year, recording her own video for his fundraising efforts.
“I’m grateful,” he said. “My family likes it. They know what I lived. They know my case. They love to see me happy with this.”
It’s no surprise that all of this momentum inspired Guillermo to look beyond GCC when dedicating time to CCRF’s fight against childhood cancer. In early 2023, Guillermo agreed to participate in a Big Dreams music video shoot for Lucas, a young boy with leukemia in Florida. Alongside firefighters, police and an ice cream truck, Guillermo played an evil gingerbread man that Lucas needed to defeat. Guillermo also served as the translator for Lucas and his family during the shoot.
“It was amazing — the best experience,” Guillermo said, noting that he saw himself in Lucas and felt a meaningful connection with him and his family. “It brought up a lot of feelings.”
Now, Guillermo couldn’t imagine not being involved with Children’s Cancer Research Fund — even after his doctors found another tumor in November. He’s already setting his sights high for GCC this September, putting out videos daily and working with sculptors and painters to auction off their work to raise funds. As for his target amount this year: “At least one more dollar than last year.”
Most importantly, Guillermo wants others to know that keeping his fundraising methods organic has been the most effective way to involve his community. You’re already on a good path just by joining the challenge and being transparent and persistent, he said.
“I do it by myself. I’m the manager. I wake up, I post my videos, I ride my bike and I get back to work. That’s it,” said Guillermo. “As long as I can, I will keep riding my bike and try to help as much as I can. I’m not a rich person in money, but I’m a rich person in values. I’m lucky, so I will do that.”