Who doesn’t love a leisurely bike ride? The summer breeze blowing through your hair as you ride up the coastline, taking in the scenery of Lake Michigan. Now imagine taking the same calming bike ride while helping to raise millions of dollars for regional performing arts groups.
Whether you’re a Lance Armstrong wannabe or a regular Joe, the Ride for the Arts annual fund raising event on June 5 is a perfect way to show support for the local arts community in addition to burning a few calories.
Every year the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) holds the Ride for the Arts, sponsored by Miller Lite. The ride has been the organization’s signature fund raising event for the past 30 years, and averages over 6,000 participants annually. There have been over 256,000 participants since 1981.
Linda Edelstein is the executive vice president of UPAF, and she says while there’s something new to enjoy every year, this year takes the cake.
“The biggest, most exciting, most off-the-charts news is being able to travel over the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge,” explained Edelstein with enough enthusiasm to fill a room. “The ride will utilize the Hoan Bridge for three of its five routes: the 25, 50 and 75-mile routes.”
Three routes go over the enormous Hoan Bridge, and there are five routes in total. There’s a five-mile family route, accompanied by a 12, 25, 50 and 75-mile route. The longest two make short cameos while passing through villages like Fox Point, Bayside and Mequon.
However, according to Edelstein, the highlight for this year’s ride is passing over the massive Hoan Bridge.
“We’ve been trying for many, many years to get permission, and we were thrilled this year,” said Edelstein. “We will close down the bridge for a couple hours. It’s a federal highway, so there were a lot of requirements in order to make that happen. We’ve been getting everything in order locally, regionally and statewide due to the variety of requirements that we need to adhere to.”
There is also a long list of requirements for having the race in general. For example, the Village of Bayside approved a certificate for the race to pass through the area last Thursday.
“Each of the municipalities that we travel through has different stipulations and regulations,” Edelstein explained. “They might request permits and things so everyone has a safe and fun time.”
But while UPAF is organizing the policies, registration for the ride has been in full swing. Thus far, close to 3,000 participants have already signed up, and the organization is expecting more to keep flooding in.
Edelstein says the 2011 fund-raising goal is $9.65 million, a number that seems incredibly high until you look at their track record. In 2010, the organization allocated over $7.2 million to help fund 34 performing arts groups throughout the region. And, since the origin of UPAF in 1967, the group has raised over $224 million towards the performing arts.
You can see what your donation is going towards during the finish line party after the event. All rides start and finish at the Summerfest grounds, so after you hop off your bike, enjoy food and live performances by local musicians and member groups of the United Performing Arts Fund.