Organizers Have a Firm Grip on ABC’s Handlebars

The beginning point for the AIDS Bicycle Challenge will be different this year — riders will start at Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park. But organizers are nearing the end of their preparations for the Sept. 12 fundraiser, which benefits the AIDS Service Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

The money raised by ABC stays in Kansas City and is distributed through the AIDS Service Foundation to HIV/AIDS service organizations, including SAVE Inc., Good Samaritan Project, Kansas City Free Health Clinic and Hope Care Center.

Josh Strodtman and Michael Lintecum are the co-producers of ABC, and Elizabeth Bejan and Theresa van Ackeren are co-chairs. In 2009, Strodtman reports, the event had 375 riders and raised over $55,000, up from 110 riders the previous year.

“Our goal would be somewhere in the 300s. We would like to meet what we did last year,” Strodtman said, when discussing this year’s financial goals.

“We’re not affiliated with the Tour of Missouri [bicycle race> this year, number one, because there is no Tour of Missouri, and I think that did bring us some exposure last year. I think that everyone that did participate last year because of the Tour had a pleasant experience, and we’re pretty certain and hopeful that all of those riders will come back this year.”

The Tour of Missouri was canceled after state tourism officials declined to help fund it.

Strodtman said another change this year is that ABC organizers have a separate steering committee from the AIDS Walk steering committee. The group is really encouraging more team participation than the event has had in the past. Strodtman said there is no minimum or maximum number of people required to be on a team.

“That really is the engine behind AIDS Walk, as far as the individual walker fundraising, is the teams. That’s how we would love to see the AIDS Bicycle Challenge transform into more of a team event as opposed to an individual event. Whether it be their company, their church group, families, we’d just really like people to come out and ride with us,” Strodtman said.

“All team captains will receive a special gift on event day,” he said. “In addition to that, we are kind of having a bit of friendly competition between all of our teams. We are going to have a VIP tent on event day where the top overall team in term of participants and the top overall team as far as team fundraising will have access to the VIP tent with special swag bags, food, drink and everything.”

Missouri State Sen. Jolie Justus will be riding and serving for the second year as the honorary chair. There is also a possibility of a celebrity rider this year that organizers hope they can announce in September.

There will be four rides of 50 miles, 30 miles, 10 miles and, new this year, a two-mile ride for children and adults.

“There’s a two mile ride on a new cycling trail alongside the river, a new section of the Lewis and Clark trail, that presents a perfect opportunity for children to ride with their families,” he said.

“You know what, if people would like to walk, that’s fine. We like to see people out there on bikes, but it’s a great opportunity for kids that are just getting used to riding.”

Strodtman said children under 8 can ride for free, with no registration fee required. Adults can ride the two-mile ride as well, Strodtman said. “We invite anyone to come out, even if they haven’t been on a bike in 10 years,” he said with a laugh.

Strodtman credits Jeanne Barnhill with all of the graphic design work this year — posters, flyers, registration form and also a pro-bono sponsor of printing. The event sponsors include Miller Lite, Shook Hardy &amp

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