The sixth annual Jerry Zucker Ride for Hope bike ride has raised and donated $500,000 to local cancer causes in five years. The sixth annual Ride, which features a metric century and several shorter rides, is October 20. Ride Founder and Director Dawson Cherry reflects on the past five years and looks ahead to this year’s ride and beyond.
Q: I’ve covered a lot of athletically-oriented fundraisers in the Lowcountry and other than Pedal 4 Pattison’s spinning marathon, I’m not sure there is a fundraiser that’s more successful in raising money – on a per capita basis – than the Jerry Zucker Ride for Hope. How much have your raised for cancer causes in the last five years and how much do you hope to raise this year?
A: We have raised well over a half million dollars in five short years and should raise another $100k this year. Our niche has been the small local businesses that have had employees affected by cancer. I send out the sponsor requests and literally for many of our sponsors I am getting the checks by the end of the week. They sign up their employees and they donate to cancer, wellness, cycling and donations, such a win win.
Q: The ride is usually held the day after the Komen Lowcountry Race for the Cure, but last year’s was held a week later. Have you found that holding it on the day after Komen helps or hurts or has no effect whatsoever?
A: We will see, it is our first time doing that and we are not looking to take the Komens thunder, just trying to add to it as maybe some will do both, just like the Bridge Run and the After the Bridge Ride(the biggest local ride in Charleston, over 500 people).
Q: A lot of fundraisers talk about giving back locally. What percentage of your funds go to local causes and what are some of them?
A: ALL now goes back locally, some went to LivesStrong (they gave us much advice and counsel in the early days of our Ride). Even then, 90% of proceeds was local. We publish our expenses, our board is all volunteer, and minus expenses it all goes back to local charities.
We are very proud of that. See link on the website, http://charlestonrideforhope.com/about/where-your-donation-goes, and we work very hard on being transparent. Every dime, every expense and bank accounts are shared with our Board. I am adamant about being a steward of the money we have been given
Q: I’m sure that one of the surprises since you started this ride in 2008 is the continued support of George Hincapie, how has he helped and is he returning?
A: George is back!! And George has been great, he Tweets our Ride, he draws other cyclists out, and helps to grow the Ride.
He does charity rides throughout the year and is a true ambassador for the sport. He has donated six slot to our Rider from his Gran Fondo ride which is held the next week in the Upstate. We will give these away at the end of the Ride to our cyclists.
Q: Are there any other “celebrity” riders coming this year?
A: Part of the Mars Hill National Champion Collegiate Cycling team will be there, we are still hopeful womens national road champion Robin Farina will attend as she did last year. And we have reached out to many others, celebrities, politcians and elite cyclists, stay tuned, maybe we may have a few more announcements as we get close to Ride Day.
Q: What’s new and different about this year’s ride?
A: We have expanded the entertainment with food and beverage after the Ride.The band “Hit or Miss,” which ispart of the Band Sol Driven Train, is scheduled to play.
The big change is we have added the “Cruiser Ride”, for beginners and families, food, beverage, t-shirt, water bottle, and entertainment with a reduced fund raising amount of $250 and a shorter ride of only 10 miles.
Q: You explain quite well on your website why the Zucker Ride for Hope costs so much, a minimum of $500 per rider. Do you still get people who are resistant to raising that money?
A: We do, but usually when I ask them, they end up making the fundraising amount no problem. Find 20 people to donate $25 dollars and you are there.
In the age of social media and email, raising the money in many ways is very easy, and some of our fundraisers really light it up, many individuals raising over $1000. For example, if you are just wanting to do this to get your workout in and get a ride done then this is not your ride, if you want to help us raise money to fight cancer then lets do that, the Ride is the vehicle for making this happen.
When you raise the $500 for the longer rides, you get almost $250 worth of swag(jersey, t-shirt, food and beverage, water bottle, celebrity riders, raffles for great prizes, etc)
Q: Is this the first year for using Awendaw Green as your venue and why is it such a great place to hold a ride?
A: Eddie and Awendaw Green are so great to work with, it is a great relaxed venue for everything, parking, great roads out that way, etc.
They don’t fight us, they work with us, and make it better, we hope to be back there many times in the future.
Q: Are there any changes ahead for the Zucker Ride for Hope and, if so, what are you considering?
A: We are. Look at the Pan Mass ride in Boston, Mass. That is the ultimate cross state fund raising ride for cancer, raising over $30million. With an entry fee of $3K, they fill it up!!! Stay tuned, the late Jerry Zucker and George Hincapie are both yelling in my ear to keep growing it and I promise, I will.
The cancer fight has gotten even more personal for my family, so my effort is renewed in this fight. It is such a great way to give back. www.charlestonrideforhope.com