OK, I stole the title, but really it’s not about the bike, or the rider, or the ride. It’s about what one person can do to help his or her community, or more accurately, communities. So, here’s the story. Two years ago, trying not to feel my age, I decided to ride my bicycle to my 50th high school class reunion. It’s important to point out here that I don’t live across town from the high school I attended — I live in Washington state and I went to school in a small Illinois farming town, 2400 miles and a couple of mountain ranges away. Thirty-six days of the ride went fine, then two farm dogs decided to herd me, knocked me down and ended my ride 900 miles short of the goal. But that’s not what it’s about either. Connecting with three circles of friends and acquaintances before that ride, I was able to garner pledges for three foundations — my home community foundation, where I’m a board member; a charitable foundation in the book business, in which I was involved for nearly four decades; and the school foundation from my home town in Illinois. The pledges totaled nearly $30,000.
Slow learner that I am, I’m climbing back on the bike on September 1st and riding from the scene of the crime in North Dakota to Bar Harbor, Maine, a distance of about 2000 miles. Once again I’m raising funds for three foundations — the community foundation and bookselling foundation from the last ride, and our local community college, which is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary, and for whom I served as a trustee for ten years.
Now I’m not suggesting that everyone hop on bikes and tool out across the country to raise money for worthy causes. What I am suggesting is that we often overlook the circles of colleagues, friends, and acquaintances we have in our lives when it comes to whatever aspect of fundraising we’re involved. That $30,000 didn’t come from Bill and Melinda or Warren or Paul. It came from the same place most philanthropic dollars come from — Jill and Joe Average. You likely know the reason most people don’t give money, right? They’re never asked. Find a way to ask your friends, colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances to give to a charitable cause in which you’re involved. They’ll feel good about it, and so will you.
If you would like to know more about my ride, follow my ride blog, or donate to one of the foundations go to Chuck’s Big Ride Redux.