BikeFest nets big bucks for charities

Published 9:12 am Monday, November 3, 2008

An annual volunteer-run charity festival has again raised tens of thousands of dollars for needy local people and causes.

At a dinner and awards ceremony to celebrate the proceeds from the 2008 Bainbridge BikeFest, organizers distributed $35,795 for a number of deserving charities and the families of ill and disabled children.

Major charity recipients receiving checks for $5,000 included the Salvation Army, Juvenile Diabetes Research and the Shriners’ non-profit hospital network.

Email newsletter signup

Bainbridge Shrine Club President Bennie Brookins said he believed BikeFest organizers and volunteers embodied the Bible verse found in Micah 6:8 (NIV), “To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

BikeFest’s quilt raffle raised $2,327, which went to Jeremy Backey, a 5-year-old boy with neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumor affecting both sides of his spine. Backey’s godfather, Kelvin Bouie of Attapulgus, accepted the check on behalf of Jeremy and his mother Otha Backey, who were not able to attend.

Bouie said Backey’s cancer is now in remission after undergoing chemotherapy and surgery at two Florida hospitals. However, Jeremy still has 12 radiation therapy treatments ahead of him and his family appreciates community prayers and support, Bouie said.

The Deep South Riders, a motorcycling club who have been strong supporters of BikeFest, collected $3,300 from its Poker Run fund-raiser. The proceeds were donated to help an 8-year-old local boy with autism. The boy’s mother described the struggle of dealing with the effects of the disorder, including the boy’s inability to speak and his frequent restless nights.

BikeFest gave $1,245 to Melissa and Paul Bullock, whose young son, Aidan, has spina bifida, a birth defect in which the bones of the spine do not wrap properly around the spinal cord. Aidan had surgery to reattach his spinal nerves and has a metal shunt in his skull to prevent neural fluid from swelling his brain, his mother said. Although he’s at toddler age, Aidan is still unable to walk and undergoes physical and speech therapy, she said.

Volunteers’ efforts extend past BikeFest grounds

Other money went to purchase Nintendo Wii video game systems for two local students who are wheelchair-bound.

The boys, Chris Cook and David Faison, use the Wii systems—on which software is primarily controlled through physical gestures—to aid in their physical therapy. Thanks to BikeFest, the boys will now be able to continue their therapy at home.

Tips left by patrons at the BikeFest festival beer tents were set aside for charity. The total tips amount of $1,959 was donated to Pathways Educational Services of Seminole County. Pathways serves students from Seminole and Decatur counties who have severe emotional and behavioral disorders or autism.

Terri Bruner, who teaches high school-aged children at Pathways, described how meaningful it was for the school’s students to spend part of a day helping BikeFest volunteers on the festival grounds. Bruner said the students were inspired to earn “points” through good classroom behavior in order to afford a plaque expressing their gratitude to BikeFest.

Other recipients of BikeFest money included Learning is for Everyone, Decatur County Hunger Prevention Coalition, the Friendship House of Jesus, the Climax Veterans’ Wall, Decatur County volunteer fire departments, the Sheriff’s Office Rescue Team, the Bainbridge Youth Football League and American Legion posts 62 and 502, and their respective auxiliary units, for their support of Boys’ and Girls’ State.

BikeFest to continue supporting Relay for Life, students

BikeFest had a strong turnout of 24 volunteers to man the two teams it entered in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fund-raising walk, said Leslie Bernier, who has been at the forefront of planning for all but one of the 11 years BikeFest has been held.

The team members’ hard work enabled them to raise $3,100 for the Cancer Society, said Bernier, who has a family member diagnosed with cancer. After taking a lesser role last year to focus on her daughter’s graduation from high school, Bernier came back full force this year and said the love and support she gets from fellow volunteers moves her to tears.

BikeFest plans to again offer a scholarship to a Bainbridge High School student with active involvement in community service. This year’s recipient was Brooke Inlow, who is majoring in physical therapy at Valdosta State University.

Bob Strickland of American Legion Post 62 also said his organization would be sponsoring an oratorical contest for high school students in January, with the chance to earn college scholarship money.