The Ride with the Champions benefits Special Olympics of Massachusetts (SOMA), raising more money each year. This year, the fifth annual Ride will start and end at the Topsfield Fairgrounds.
Dappled sunlight through overhanging trees, long roads going through salt marshes, a sea breeze picks up with the taste of salt in the air.
These are the sensations meeting the participants of the Ride with the Champions year after year, and these participants should be able to get a similar feeling this Saturday, Aug. 29. The Ride with the Champions benefits Special Olympics of Massachusetts (SOMA), raising more money each year. This year, the fifth annual Ride will start and end at the Topsfield Fairgrounds.
The three courses offered on the Ride will get a wonderful sampling of all that the heart of Essex County has to offer. For instance, the longest route, a 62-mile circuit, takes the riders from Topsfield through Wenham, Hamilton, Beverly, Manchester, Essex and Ipswich, before heading back into Topsfield.
Additional routes of 22 and 12 miles feature different routes in some of the above towns, as well.
“We’ve always held the ride in Topsfield,” said John Muskrat, the Vice President of Marketing and Development for Special Olympics of Massachusetts. “It really came down to laying out a course, and that can be tricky. This gives us a chance to have a scenic course. Also, the Topsfield Fairgrounds donated the space to host the party there, and it’s just a few miles from our office in Danvers.”
Overall, SOMA has raised approximately $350,000 over the five years, with roughly $100,000 coming last year from the ride.
Though riders can show up and ride the day of the event, fundraising continues until Oct. 31 for the Ride with the Champions, allowing riders time to raise the $350 fundraising minimum.
As of the middle of this week, the Ride with the Champions numbered about 100 riders, with 15 of those riders being Special Olympics athletes.
“A lot of the Special Olympics athletes are definitely our best fundraisers,” said Muskrat.
The Ride with the Champions is typically considered Special Olympics of Massachusetts (SOMA) third biggest statewide fundraiser, according to Muskrat.
“It is still growing,” he added. “It’s an event that has some passionate riders who have raised a good amount of money. Some riders raise in excess of $10,000 and $15,000 on their own. We’re smaller than the Pan-Mass Challenge, but it is growing.”
Other top fundraisers for SOMA are the Passion Plunge in February, while December features the Jolly Jaunt run and walk. The Passion Plunge sees courageous swimmers take a dip in the cold ocean waters off Revere and Nantasket Beaches, while the Jolly Jaunt has seven different concurrent run/walk events around the state.
The biking community, according to Muskrat, is a dedicated but tough community to please.
“The biggest thing you can do for your ride is to have it circulate through the biking community as a good event,” said Muskrat. “You want to get the riders what they are looking for, especially in support. You want them to tell others ‘That was a great event.’
“Cyclists want the event to be run right,” said Muskrat. “There are some big cycling events in the state with the PMC, and there’s a Best Buddies Challenge in June that’s big, too.”
Registration will open at 6 a.m. on Aug. 29. The 62-mile race begins at 8 a.m., and the 22-mile and 12-mile races begin at 10 a.m. Closing ceremonies and an awards presentation will be at noon.
All proceeds from Ride with the Champions will help fund uniforms, equipment, year-round training and competition costs for Special Olympics of Massachusetts athletes.
Even if you don’t have a bike, you can still head out on the ride, as SOMA is teaming up with Urban AdvenTours to rent bikes at the site for the ride.
The late Eunice Kennedy Shriver had a dream 41 years ago, to see athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities make their own dreams come true. There are success stories in every town, around every corner, thanks to the Special Olympics.
Why not turn a few corners yourself for these inspiring athletes?
To register, visit www.ridewiththechampions.org or call 1-888-767-7223.
Contact Joshua Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org.