BRATTLEBORO—The Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro signature fundraiser, a bike ride called Going the Distance, has attracted a following of committed riders and club supporters for six years.
This year, an estimated 60 riders will pedal 40, 60, or 100 miles to raise funds for the local club that offers programs to area youth at its sites on Flat Street and at Westgate Housing in Brattleboro, and in Bellows Falls.
According to former board president and ride coordinator Robert Nassau, the ride and organization are local to their core. Approximately 98 percent of the funds raised go straight to club programs. The ride’s corporate sponsors help cover expenses.
“Every little bit people raise makes a difference,” he said.
Last year, the event raised $43,000. Over its lifetime, the ride has brought in an estimated $182,000.
To date, the 2015 ride has received more than $22,000 in promised donations.
Nassau expects more donations to trickle in closer to the ride on June 27.
Most of this year’s cyclists come from the local area, with some hailing from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Ohio, said Nassau.
This with be the fourth year for a mother and daughter team from New York City, said Nassau. Two Boys & Girls Club directors based in New York will also join the ride.
The ride’s three loops all start and stop at the Marlboro College Graduate Center. Depending on their chosen loop, cyclists travel through the rolling hills of southern Vermont and into the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts, including Greenfield, Turners Falls, Deerfield, and Amherst.
Lunch is provided. Riders will also have opportunity to stop for a swim, Nassau said.
Nassau said the 60-mile loop will be enough peddling for him.
Friend and fellow cyclist Jim Robinson has pledged to cycle the 100-mile loop.
He has participated in the ride since it started. He said he has grown more comfortable with asking for donations and perfected his appeal email over the years.
A cyclist from the age of five or six, Robinson said, “I’m extremely passionate about biking. I’d do it at the drop of a hat.”
Participating in the ride, however, has fostered a deep respect and appreciation for the education, health, support, meal, and activity programs the Boys & Girls Club provides to local kids.
He described the Boys & Girls Club as “a meaningful organization in town.”
The club allows kids to “burn off energy” as well as get support with school work, Robinson said, and the staff “are really great mentors for the kids to have.”
According to Robinson, as adults, some of the former club members have looked back and said that the Boys & Girls Club made all the difference.
“That it really saved them,” he said.
After federal funding, the ride represents the club’s second largest influx of cash. The annual Duck Derby is number one. Derby proceeds are split with the Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department.
New staff member and teacher Daniel Quipp said that at a tightly-run organization like the Boys & Girls Clubs of Brattleboro, even small amounts like $100 or $500 makes a tangible difference.
Quipp spends three afternoons a week helping elementary-age residents at Westgate with school work. He spends his days at the club going through budgets and fundraising.
“It’s good for kids to have a reliable mentor,” he said.
The Westgate programs provide reading support and one-on-one work to the kids.
Quipp has seen the residents’ academic efforts improve.
It’s nice to do tangible work in a small town with a small group of kids, said Quipp who has also taught in NYC and London.
No one is “lost through the cracks” in the small groups, he said.
Quipp will cycle the 60-mile loop. Although a dedicated recreational and commuter cyclist, he said he’s not ready for 100 miles.
Donations from the ride will provide much-needed capital for the summer, said Nassau.
The Boys & Girls Club offers programs throughout the year. Its summer programs include multiple camps that run for 7 weeks like a skateboarding camp. The club also runs free summer lunch and dinner programs. The organization also has extended summer hours.
These camps and programs run at a loss, Nassau said. The ride helps fund them.
He estimated the summer programs cost $2,000 a day.
Nassau thanked corporate sponsors who helped cover the ride’s expenses. The Marina Restaurant has sponsored the event for all six years. The Trust Company of Vermont for five years, Leader Beverage for four years, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital for three years, while C&S and Baystate Financial have both sponsored the ride for two years. New sponsors include Brattleboro Savings & Loan, Recycle Away, GPI Construction, and the Brattleboro Retreat.