Coordinators attribute decline to “‘loss of momentum’ caused by Hurricane Rita, resignation of founder
Distributions by the 2006 Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS to its three beneficiaries fell by $109,961, representing a 39 percent decrease in comparison to the previous year’s proceeds.
Michael Bailey, community relations manager for the fundraiser, said $170,929 was split among AIDS Services of Dallas, Resource Center of Dallas and AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County. The distributions for the 2005 event totaled $280,890, he said.
Bailey attributed the decrease to the after-effect of Hurricane Rita forcing coordinators to postpone the 2005 ride and to the retirement last year of the fundraiser’s founder, Janie Bush.
Bush, who cited exhaustion last year when she announced her retirement, had been the “heart and soul” of the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS, Bailey said.
“Two major things occurred, and that really put us back,” he said.
A make-up ride was held in 2005 for the riders who had already raised money for the event, but fewer riders were able to participate than regularly scheduled, Bailey said. The trend continued in 2006 with only 71 riders and about 130 volunteers participating, compared to the average 115 riders and 185 volunteers participating in previous years, he said.
“We lost momentum,” Bailey said.
The event, which has raised $1.4 million for its beneficiaries in its six-year history, appears to be attracting more interest this year, Bailey said.
Coordinators expect fundraising to be back on track for the seventh-annual event slated for Sept. 29-30, he said.
“There’s so much excitement about the ride already,” Bailey said. “I think it’s going to be bigger and better than ever.”
The number of riders planning to participate this year has already matched the total number seen last year, and the ride is still eight months away, Bailey noted.
Bush said she was disappointed to hear that the 2006 event had failed to keep pace with the previous record, but that she was hopeful it would rebound this year.
“Because the Lone Star Ride is so important for what it does for the beneficiary agencies, it is distressing to see any decrease,” Bush said. “Any drop is distressing.”
Bailey said the event’s coordinators are in discussion with potential sponsors who could provide national coverage of the 2007 fundraiser. That hopefully will attract riders from other areas, he said.
Event co-chair Tesa Golden said in a statement that the event’s coordinators had selected “Saddle Up” as its 2007 theme to capitalize on the entertainment value of the fundraiser.
“We selected “‘Saddle Up’ for its wild west connotations,” Golden said. “Lone Star Ride is a big, fun adventure with big rewards. Ask anyone who has done it.”
The event is a two-day bike ride in the surrounding countryside of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
The route is from 85 miles to 170 miles long, depending on the option chosen by the rider one-day, two-day or road warrior.
It is designed to accommodate the abilities of all riders, Golden said.
“In 2006 we had riders aged from their early 20s to their early 70s,” Golden said.
“This is a ride that anyone can do, especially with the support we provide along the way,” she added.
The event provides pit stops every 10 to 15 miles, noted co-chair Tom Yurkin. Meals, refreshments and other services are provided on the route by the friendly, entertaining volunteers, he said.
“We create the event for riders, but our crew is the heart of this ride, providing most of the encouragement and fun of the weekend,” Yurkin said.
“They are crazy.”
This year’s ride will pass Mountain Creek Lake, Lynn Creek and Lake Alvarado on the way to Glen Rose, where the one-day riders finish the journey.
The two-day riders will camp overnight near the Brazos River, returning the next day through Cleburne to Fort Worth to participate in closing ceremonies.
For information about upcoming events and registration, visit LoneStarRide.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 19, 2007