Tour de Gem cycling fundraiser goes virtual

This year's Tour de Gem cycling fundraiser is going virtual. CONTRIBUTED
This year's Tour de Gem cycling fundraiser is going virtual. CONTRIBUTED

Cycling and philanthropy go hand-in-hand at the Tour de Gem.

The annual regional event was designed to bring “cycling, charities and communities together.” Now, even though people are still being urged to stay apart, the event will go on — this year, virtually.

“We loved having the big event — the tent, the food, the camaraderie – but it’s not about us, it’s about the nonprofits,” said Tour de Gem co-chair Gerry Chadwick. “And, given the current situation, we knew we needed to find any and all means to help them.”

Nonprofit organizations register to participate and encourage riders to join their “team.” Individual riders can join any team created by an organization they support, and there are a wide variety to choose from. Animal lovers can ride for SICSA or 4 Paws for Ability while outdoor enthusiasts might choose the Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation. There are 22 participating organizations already registered, including United Rehabilitation Services, We Care Arts and the Ronald McDonald House Charities, with several others likely joining the fun in the coming weeks.

In the Tour’s first two years, close to 500 riders helped raise more than $160,000 for local nonprofit organizations. The Victory Project has been part of the Tour de Gem since its inception, raising more than $15,000 for the after-school program designed for disengaged young men, ages 12-18, in the Dayton area.

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“As an organization, it’s easy to do and as a rider, it’s a lot of fun,” said Andy Stroh Victory Project program director. “And the kids actually participate in the fundraising, which teaches them to get out there and communicate.”

Stroh quickly transitioned from rookie to avid cyclist a year ago.

“I started cycling last year, and the 38 miles I rode for the Tour nearly killed me, but I had a lot of fun,” he said, smiling. “It’s nice to ride and spend time with the guys.”

This year's Tour de Gem cycling fundraiser is going virtual. CONTRIBUTED
This year's Tour de Gem cycling fundraiser is going virtual. CONTRIBUTED

The Victory Project has several students and volunteers already signed up for this year’s event. Riders choose their own route and mileage total in this year’s virtual event. The Victory Project team will ride to Young’s Jersey Dairy as a group – 27 miles each way – and hope to raise $15,000.

Like many other local nonprofit organizations, Victory Project’s major fundraiser was canceled this year as a result of the pandemic. Canceled galas, walks and other events make the Tour de Gem, presented by Kettering Health Network, even more important.

“We’re excited that, with this new format, we’re able to fill the gaps and keep people safe,” Chadwick said.

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Riders don’t even need to leave home to participate as they can also log their miles on a stationary bike. It’s not too late to cycle for a cause as nonprofit organizations can still register as can individual riders.

“You can put a team together up until the third week of August,” Chadwick said. “We would like people to get their ride in within a two-week period sometime between Aug. 21 and Sept. 6.”

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