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A Bikefest ‘miracle’

The organizers, volunteers and visitors who pitched in this past September to make Bainbridge Bikefest happen for the 12th year pulled off a miracle, lead organizer Roy Reynolds said at a celebratory banquet held Saturday night.

Despite the economy, despite all the effort it took to prepare a new site to hold the festival, despite all the mud, the 2009 Bainbridge Bikefest was able to raise $30,365 for local charities, said Reynolds, the event’s founder and chairman.

“That’s staggering considering what we went through,” Reynolds said. “You’re the ones who put it together, you’re the reason it worked,” he told the many volunteers and supporters who gathered at The Charter House Inn.

Since the first time it was held in 1999, Bikefest has been successful enough to donate money to charity every year, with the help of what Reynolds called a series of “little miracles.” After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, grounded all planes in the United States for a week, Bikefest organizers were able to find two nationally-known replacement acts who could travel by bus to perform. In 2004, Bikefest weathered the storms spawned by powerful Hurricane Ivan. For 2009, Bikefest had to contend with the dampened interest of paying customers due to the economic downturn, Reynolds said.

“I was already writing out excuses and apologies I was going to have to make to our charities,” Reynolds said.

After all the bills were paid and the net proceeds tallied, Bikefest organizers found out the good news, which they shared in the form of checks given to numerous local charities as well as three national charitable causes.

This year’s Bikefest recipients and their awards included: Salvation Army, $4,000; Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, $4,000; Shriners’ Hospitals for Children, $4,000; Friendship House of Jesus, $1,000; Learning is for Everyone, $1,000; Laymen Brotherhood Second Chance Outreach Center, $500; Decatur County Sheriff’s Office Rescue Unit, $500; Family Connections, $500; eight county volunteer fire departments, $2,039.23; Boys and Girls State, $1,500; American Cancer Society, $2,761; scholarship for civically active 2009 Bainbridge High School graduate Kayla Cox, $500; BHS Air Force Junior ROTC, $500; $1,330 for a juvenile cancer patient; playground equipment for use by special needs children, $2,800; two Nintendo Wiis to help with the physical rehabilitation of children with disabilities; Memorial Hospital’s Camp Joy summer program for children with disabilities, $1,040; $1,217.25 to Pathways, a school for children who have emotional or behavioral problems in Decatur and Seminole counties; Port City Football Association to develop leadership and discipline in youth, $1,350.