For two years Operation Pedal Express Supporting Our Troops has brought a number of cyclists together to raise money for the American Legion Auxiliary’s Packages to War.
“Last year it at least doubled,” said Gary Smith, organizer of the event and American Legion member. “This year it could triple.”
That is because of the added event, a 5K run/walk, in addition to the bicycle rides.
“With the bicycles not everyone can operate one or has the money to have one,” Smith said of why they decided to add the 5K. “We are trying to bring in more of a family event.”
He also said they can always use donations if someone wants to give but not participate in the events.
Another way people can get involved is through a fundraiser at Pizza Hut where a portion of the proceeds from sales on March 23 and 30 and April 6 will be given to the event.
Participants in the past have come from as far away as Midland, Texas, with several from the Topeka area, Wichita and Oklahoma.
This year’s ride will include three routes. The first, known as Waveride, is for young children and less experienced riders and totals seven miles on an established bicycle route. The second route, known as Determination, is for those who want a little more of a challenge and is a 20-mile course on open roads. The third route is Frequent Wind and is for experienced riders. It is a 50-mile course on open roads.
In addition to the ride and run, the HollyFrontier Smoke Team will be cooking lunch and there will be an Elvis impersonator performing from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Also, Freddy’s Frozen Custard will be providing frozen custard from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park.
Smith said they decided to add food this year because especially for the 50-mile riders, they are hungry when they get back.
Proceeds from the event support sending the packages to troops in combat zones.
Lance Cpl. Sean Stubblefield, who is from El Dorado and stationed in North Carolina, said while he was deployed to Afghanistan every time he went out, when he returned there would be packages waiting for him from the Legion Auxiliary.
“It built a lot of moral,” he said, “knowing people still care.”
Registrations forms can be picked up at a number of locations throughout town, as well as be found by searching for RoadID online or visiting kansascyclist.com.
The event will be held April 20, beginning at East Park. The walk/run will start at 9 a.m. with the bike rides starting at 10 a.m.
Page 2 of 2 - This year, participants will start under the new start line banner then be welcomed back by the “finish” side of the banner, which was provided for by a donation from Lisa Jack with Farmers Insurance.
“I have been involved since it started,” Jack said. “This was just a need I could fill. I feel like this is my home town and I just wanted to give back. This project is special to my heart because number one, my dad was in the military. And I can’t imagine being that far from home and not getting something.”
For more information on the event, contact Smith at 323-3982.