BRATTLEBORO -- A group of 70 cyclists will be "Going the Distance" for the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro and Bellows Falls on Saturday, June 29. They will leave from the Marlboro Graduate Center on Vernon Street and will be riding either 103, 58 or 30 miles in support of the club.
This is the fourth year of the annual event and riders hope to raise over $50,000 for the club. The money raised by this ride have become a primary source of funding for the Boys & Girls Club.
Dr. Robert Nassau, who initiated the first Derby Line to Brattleboro bike ride in 2010, said each rider is asked to raise $500 or more for the club. There will be T-shirts and other goodies for all riders, and prizes for the top fundraisers.
The Going the Distance Ride has become key to the financial health of the club, Nassau said.
"When I started on the club's board of directors eight years ago, we were heavily dependent on federal funding," he said. "The money we raise with the ride has helped us diversify our funding and make us less vulnerable to budget cuts."
But just as important as raising money, Nassau said, the event helps raise the club's visibility in the community.
"We get people who like doing distance rides, but they also learn about the club and what we do," he said. "It has a ripple effect as more people get involved with the ride."
The club has 1,100 members who participate in activities at the main clubhouse on Flat Street and satellite programs in Brattleboro and Bellows Falls. It also serves more than 3,000 non-member area youth.
The club's indoor skatepark and other facilities are very important to local kids but the tutoring and mentoring that the club provides really makes a difference in their lives. Active members have 100 percent high school graduation and 0 percent teen pregnancy.
The Boys & Girls Club provides meals, after school activities and summer camps for many local kids. It's a safe place for youth; a place where they can have experiences that broaden their horizons and helps them accomplish things they never thought were possible.
With 60 percent of club members qualifying for free or reduced-rate school lunches, and 63 percent coming from single-parent households, Nassau said the club is serving the young people who need its services the most.
All interested cyclists are invited to join the ride next year. People can donate by mailing a check to the Boys & Girls Club, 17 Flat St., Brattleboro, VT 05301 or online at www.firstgiving.com/bgcbrattleboro/2013.