Every year, Tu Nidito helps cyclists take part in the El Tour de Tucson bike ride through the Ride for a Child program. This opportunity serves as a major fundraiser for Tu Nidito but it provides so much more.
I was first introduced to Ride for a Child four years ago by friends who asked me to join them for a training ride. I was worried that since I was not a participant that it would be a problem but it became clear that I was welcomed to join and there were no strings attached. What happened from there is I went from not knowing much about Tu Nidito, to now serving on the Board of Directors.
Each person who signs up to Ride for a Child is required to fundraise at least $500 for Tu Nidito, but there are certainly no limits to how much you can raise. When you register to Ride for a Child, you receive your entry paid into the El Tour de Tucson, a Tu Nidito jersey and months of training rides. What makes participating so special is learning about the child you are riding in honor of. Each rider gets paired with a Tu Nidito child and you get a customized web page to share with people to assist in your fundraising. This makes it a much more personal experience for both the rider and the child.
Starting each April, Tu Nidito starts the training rides twice a month on Sundays. We gather at Tu Nidito’s location on Mountain and Roger and from there, split into two groups. One group is for people who have been riding with some miles in their legs. This group will do a 40 plus mile ride at a higher average speed. The second group is usually people who are just starting to ride for the year. The first few rides are shorter, focusing on group safety, what to expect in El Tour and how to continue training for whatever distance the riders are signed up for. As the summer goes on, each group goes a little farther and a little faster. By August, we start doing sections of the El Tour route so people know what to expect and what it takes to complete the course. After each ride, there is breakfast back at Tu Nidito. This is one of the best parts, as there is a definite camaraderie that develops with the riders who all come together, doing something they love and helping such a great cause.
The night before El Tour de Tucson is a really big night for the cyclists and the Tu Nidito kids. Many of the children who have been paired with a rider will come to the Meet & Greet Dinner. Cyclists get to sit with the families and spend time together. The feeling of appreciation and gratitude is overwhelming, and for me, the first time I met the child I was riding for, I knew I would be participating year after year.
My third year as a Ride for a Child participant is when I opened my own bike shop, and I knew going in I was going to find a way to participate with and help Ride for a Child grow. I am so happy to be able to help lead the training rides, provide information about bike repairs, recommendations for equipment and training ideas. I love promoting Ride for a Child and introducing new people to Tu Nidito. I figure if there are 10,000 plus people already planning to ride in El Tour de Tucson, why not get as many as I can involved in raising money for such a great organization. Now that I am on the Board of Directors, I feel even more proud of being a part of Tu Nidito and sharing this organization with everyone.
What started out as just another Sunday on the bike, has turned into a committed relationship with an amazing organization I am proud to support and be a part of. No matter your age or ability, I hope you will consider joining Ride for a Child.