BRATTLEBORO >> "Another great year of bicycling and Going the Distance for the children of Brattleboro, Vermont!" That's how Steve Melton, CEO of Madison Square Boys & Girls Club in New York City, described the recent fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro held on Saturday, June 25. Melton returned for his second year in a row and brought five friends from the NYC Major Taylor Cycling Club to join the nearly 70 riders who rode their bikes from Brattleboro through the Pioneer Valley along 40, 60 and 100 mile routes.
Current Board member and former Board President Bob Nassau began the bike ride seven years ago with a handful of biking enthusiasts to support the Club by riding the length of Vermont from the Canadian border to the Club's headquarters at 17 Flat Street. In ensuing years, the ride was modified to allow more riders to participate in a one-day event with optional distances.
To date, this year's GTD ride has raised over $47,000 in contributions thanks to the more than 650 people who donated to individual riders. The ride is a family-friendly, multi-generational event, and this year's field included four youthful riders under the age of 15 and several over the age of 75. Among this year's participants were 25 first-time riders and many who have done the ride four times or more. Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and Brattleboro Saving & Loan sponsored large teams of riders. Smaller teams included riders affiliated with Landmark College, Brattleboro Young Professionals, the Brattleboro Retreat, fhe Thunderbolts, Friends of the Boys & Girls Club and in Memory of Jesse Immler.
Nassau credited good weather and outstanding local support for making this year's GTD ride particularly memorable for participants. Forty-five area merchants contributed gift certificates as incentives for riders who surpassed the suggested individual fund-raising goal of $350. Brattleboro-area businesses and volunteers staffed rest stops in Turners Falls, Greenfield, Amherst and Florence, Massachusetts, and the Marina Restaurant provided a hearty lunch for all the riders and volunteers.
"Staff, Board and community volunteers all pulled together to make the event very successful. Every year, we hear how we give great customer service," commented Nassau," so, big thanks to all who make this such a fun community event."
Many of this year's particpants are already looking ahead to next year, as one returning rider commented: "It was a wonderful experience that featured great fun, making new friends, reunion with past GTD riders and raising needed funds for the Brattleboro BGC. The routes were well supported and the beauty of the Vermont countryside picture perfect. Can't wait to do it all again in 2017!"
The Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro serves over 1,100 local youth members. Its mission is "to inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens."
Donations to the GTD Ride provide scholarship and help to defray expenses for summer camps offered by the Club from the end of June through early August. Funds raised through the Ride also help to fund the Club's extended hours of weekday operations and to underwrite the Club's free meals and dinners for area youth throughout the summer.
Contributions can still be made in support of individual "Going the Distance" riders until the end of summer through the FirstGiving link on the Club's website: http://www.bgcbrattleboro.com/ or by mailing a check to the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro at 17 Flat St., Brattleboro, VT 05301.