180-Mile, Two-Day Event Raises $5.7 Million
Four hundred cyclists from across the United States and Canada challenged their hearts as well as their bodies during the two-day, 180-mile Bike4Chai ride through Connecticut, New Jersey and New York last week. The ride featured killer hills and magnificent vistas and raised more than $5.7 million to provide services for sick children.
Bike4Chai supports Camp Simcha, an overnight summer camp for children with cancer, chronic conditions, genetic illnesses and disabilities, and the organization that runs it, Chai Lifeline. Chai Lifeline is an international children’s health support network that provides dozens of programs and services that enable sick children and their families to cope with the emotional, social, and financial impact of serious pediatric illness.
On Wednesday, August 5, the 400 cyclists rode a century (100 mile) that climbed over 7,500 feet. The next day they cycled an additional 75 miles, climbing another 5,500 feet to a glorious conclusion at Camp Simcha. Their entrance into camp was a fantastic finish to the rally. They were cheered and feted by 400 campers, staff members, and invited family.
“Coming into Camp Simcha is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” explained Yoel Margolese, race director. “The kids are so excited to be part of the Bike4Chai experience. The energy in the air is so high that the riders forget about fatigue. Music permeates the air, and everyone dances.”
Even before they rode into Camp Simcha, cyclists were never alone on their journey: the ride is fully supported with SAG wagons and stocked rest stops. The amazing breakfasts and dinners, with buffets filled with nourishing and delicious food, make this one of the few cycling tours where cyclists may be ingesting more calories than they burn.
This year, support also came from two Tour de France riders, George Hincapie and Christian Vande Velde, and former NFL wide receiver Amani Toomer. They cycled the full ride with the group, offering tips and encouragement at every mile.
For a group of riders from Montreal, Bike4Chai was the last leg of a 500 mile ride that began on Sunday, August 2. The Canadian group spent three days cycling from Montreal to Stamford, and then joined the group for the kick-off pasta party on Tuesday evening.
In addition to the grueling physical training, the riders must raise thousands of dollars each from family, friends, and colleagues in order to participate. The vast majority raises far more than the minimum, and most riders return year after year, encouraging one another to train hard and raise more for the kids. The top fund raising team this year was Team Meridian, whose riders are associated with Meridian Capital, LLC, which raised an astounding $789,000.
Several riders have children who have been to Camp Simcha or know families who have been helped by Chai Lifeline’s year-round services. Many have formed teams in honor of present and former campers.
Warren Roll of Montreal raised more than $100,000 as a way of showing his appreciation to the organization and to Camp Simcha. “This is a small feat compared to my daughter Jayden’s cancer battle, and what others are faced with as they fight, too,” he said. His daughter will spend her second summer at Camp Simcha this year.
Neil Singal organized a team of cyclists in Detroit who hope to raise $100,000. “The Greater Detroit Community has unfortunately experienced an increased number of diagnoses. We’ve banded together to help them,” he declared.
“Bike4Chai riders inspire us in so many ways,” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, executive vice president of Chai Lifeline. “Their commitment to the sport and to our children reminds our families that the greater community is on their side in their toughest battles.”