That’s the good news.
The better news is the numbers will keep growing headed into Saturday’s 4-course festivities intended for bicyclists, but which will include a plethora of Habitat-supportive volunteers and observers who want to watch their two-wheeling loved ones pedaling for a deserving community cause.
“We have more sponsors involved and have already raised more money than last year and we haven’t reached the day of the event yet,” said an excited Matt Carlson, Habitat for Humanity executive director who reports this year’s goal is to double the 2010 total of $20,000.
If the goal is reached, it would pay for an entire Habitat house. In the Cleveland Habitat housing market, a full corporate sponsorship is $40,000.
Toyota of Cleveland is this year’s event sponsor. State Farm Insurance and Jim Rush Funeral Homes are Stage Sponsors. Carlson said the day of cycling has garnered five Contributing Sponsors; plus, more than 20 companies, schools and churches are fielding cycling teams.
“Shane’s Rib Shack and Deli Boys are the food sponsors so there will be plenty of good food to eat once riders get back from their respective trips around Bradley County,” Carlson said. “We’ll have music, live DJs, a radio remote and a lot more.”
The Lee University Canteen will feed all event volunteers.
The event gets under way at Bradley Central High School. Early morning registration begins at 7 a.m. However, participants may also pre-register the night before on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Toyota of Cleveland. Those who pre-register will have their names included in a drawing for a bicycle donated by Scott’s Bikes. It is valued at $450.
Another Bike to Build drawing will also feature a bicycle. It is a green bike valued at $150 and is being donated by Regions Bank, the event sponsor for the goodie bags.
The four distances will include 20K (12.4 miles) which is recommended for new or inexperienced riders; 50K (31.07 miles), recommended for those with some road-riding experience; 100K (62 miles), recommended for seasoned riders; and 100 miles, recommended for advanced riders.
Along the course, the routes will include cheerleaders and coaches from all three high schools — Bradley Central, Cleveland and Walker Valley high schools.
Volunteers throughout the community are stepping up in support of Bike to Build and the Habitat for Humanity cause.
One is Donna Queiros, affectionately known by friends using her Native American name as “Fallingwaters.” The Habitat supporter and volunteer has already raised more than $514 but her collection plate will be piled even higher by the start of Saturday’s event.
“Donna rides her bike every single day back and forth to work,” said Tammy Johnson, Habitat resource development director who is coordinating this year’s Bike to Build. “For many years she has ridden her bike going to work cleaning houses and businesses. She carries her supplies in her backpack.”
Last December, Fallingwaters was involved in a serious accident in which she was hit by a moving vehicle.
“She suffered injuries and had nine staples in her head that kept her from riding for almost four months,” Johnson explained. “Now, she’s thrilled to be back on the road and is adamant that everyone who cycles should wear a helmet!”
Fallingwaters, who is happy to be “back in the saddle,” will be pedaling the challenging 100-mile course but the likable Habitat enthusiast isn’t fazed by the distance, the inevitable fatigue or the strain on her body ... because it’s all for a cause in which she strongly believes.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime where I can inspire others to get involved and hopefully inspire others to give,” the cyclist stressed. “The decision to get involved with Habitat for Humanity has been an inspiration to me.”
And certainly others as well.
Fallingwaters became involved with Habitat for Humanity in 2000 when she began cleaning the house of a Habitat family in Cleveland.
“Today, Donna faithfully cleans the home of Michael Pogue and his family, who are recipients of a Habitat for Humanity home,” Johnson explained. “Both Michael and his wife have cerebral palsy and having someone in the house to help clean is a real blessing for the family.”
It is also a blessing for the caregiver, Johnson stressed.
“It’s people like Donna who inspire me,” Johnson pointed out. “Some people may not feel their financial donations are important, but Donna is proof that small donations do add up when the whole community gets involved.”
They do total up ... enough to build an entire Habitat for Humanity house.
And that’s what keeps executive directors enthused.
“We’re pumped!” Carlson said in unrestrained elation. “Whether you’re a rider, a volunteer, a sponsor or just along for the ride, it’s going to be a great day! There is still time to get involved and we could surely use some more volunteers.”
Those interested in signing up as a volunteer or cyclist should visit www.habitatofcleveland.org and click on the “Bike to Build” heading to sign up as a “Volunteer,” a “Rider” or a “Sponsor.”
“Come ride with us!” Carlson roared with a laugh. “It’ll be the most fun you, your family, your friends and other loved ones have had in years!”
Information is also available by calling 423-476-6947.