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Riders raise $21,000 for Brattleboro Boys & Girls Club

BRATTLEBORO—Eight riders recently completed a “double century” bike ride and raised more than $21,000 in donations for the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro, exceeding their original $16,000 goal.

Starting on July 17, Robert Nassau, Jim Robinson, Kathryn Karmen, Mike Marchand, John Bentley, Sandy Garland, Christopher Chapman and Jim Sweitzer peddled 200 miles from Derby Line to Brattleboro, with a stopover in Bradford at a cabin own by Garland.

Boys & Girls Club staff and kids welcomed the riders home July 18 with a reception at the Club on Flat Street.

“Everyone finished in good spirits. [The fundraiser] truly exceeded my expectations,” says Robert Nassau, Boys & Girls Club board president and a retired pediatrician.

The riders undertook the fundraising to help compensate for a $150,000 budgetary shortfall experienced by the Club after yearly federal funds from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Drug Abuse Prevention (OJJDP) fell through.

“We’re forever grateful,” says Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro Executive Director Beth Baldwin-Page.

But more money is needed to make up for the lost $150,000 she said.

The Club serves more than 1,200 members and over 3,000 non-member area youth. According to Baldwin Page and Nassau, the kids at the reception were amazed the eight riders would bike 200 miles on their behalf.

Baldwin-Page said that the kids are always amazed when an adult wants to help them before they get into trouble.

She added many of the young people at the Club don’t know about the $150,000 funding shortfall. That’s the adults’ responsibility.

“Finding funding is not their [the kids’] problem,” says Baldwin-Page.

According to Nassau, the heat and humidity were the hardest part of the ride. The riders “bonded” over the two days and helped each other during hard moments.

“I’m very grateful,” said Nassau.

To ensure all donated monies go directly to the Club, the riders paid their expenses. The Tavern Restaurant donated meals and The Brattleboro Food Co-op donated food for snacks. Sweitzer, who is the owner of West Hill Shop in Putney, donated tools and supplies. One of his vendors, Hammer Nutrition, donated energy snacks and drinks.

Sweitzer said he had no connection with the Club. His love of biking got him involved but as he learned more, the programs at the Boys & Girls Club’s impressed him.

“It’s a great cause,” he said.

Rider and elementary physical education teacher John Bentley first signed up because he loves cycling. He said walking into the Club and seeing former students, who are at the Club almost daily, changed his tune.

“I feel the satisfaction of being able to help the Boys & Girls Club,” he said.

The Club is still accepting donations. Community members wanting to make donations can send a check or donate online. Donations are tax deductible.

Make checks to the “Boys & Girls Club” and putting “The Ride” or a specific rider’s name in the memo line.

Checks can be mailed to the Boys & Girls Club at 17 Flat St., Brattleboro, VT 05301. Donating by check saves the Club the Internet processing fee.

To donate online, go to http://www.firstgiving.com/6065. For more information about the Club and the “Going the Distance Ride,” call 802-254-5990 or visit the Club’s website at www.bgcbrattleboro.com.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #60 (Wednesday, July 28, 2010).

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