In spirit of the 99th annual Tour de France, a 3,200-mile, three-week bicycle race that kicked off Saturday in France and other nearby countries, the Kent County YMCA at 900 Centerville Road held a fundraising event Friday, Riding for Dollars, as part of their 2012 Financial Assistance Program, which aids local families in need.
As a result, they raised nearly $5,600, and pledges continue to come in.
“It’s very important that we educate the community about the charitable work of the YMCA,” said Executive Director Eileen Barber, who noted that the Y has raised more than $260,000 since the beginning of the year.
The funds are awarded to families who reside in Warwick, West Warwick, East Greenwich and Coventry that are financially struggling. Money is distributed on a case-by-case basis.
“We are here to serve the community; it’s the core of our mission,” Barber said. “We also want to remind those who can help to please help and remind those who are in need to walk through our doors. The need continues every single day.”
Using seven stationary workout bicycles, 53 participants, including staff and Y members alike, took turns cycling for at least one hour apiece Friday from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The staff and members opposed one another, racing in the lobby of the facility for the most miles, as well as the most dollars, as sponsors made donations on their behalf.
Barber and Josie Dutil, health and wellness recreation director, hopped on bikes and cycled for the cause. Dutil and Lisa McMahon, a group cycle instructor who led participants through the challenge and cycled for six hours, spearheaded the fundraiser.
“There were several Y’s doing fundraisers utilizing the group cycle bikes and we came up with an idea that would incorporate camaraderie, friendly competition and build member to staff relationships,” said Dutil.
To find participants, staff members made announcements after all health and wellness classes, particularly the group cycling classes. Others were approached individually because they enjoy group cycling.
To the staff’s surprise, they had no trouble finding people who were more than willing to help. They realized individuals viewed it as an awesome chance to get to know other members and staff, get a great workout and help a good cause.
“Lisa has had a lot of influence of getting individuals to register,” said Dutil. “It has allowed us to see staff members’ ability to really step up and take ownership of this event and creating an atmosphere that will allow us to raise as much money as possible.”
To make a donation, contact the YMCA at 828-0130 ext. 235 or visit ymcagreaterprovidence.org.