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Orlando Sentinel: Rain can’t damper fun of first Ride for our Homies

264760_180235495368152_3454941_nWhen Retro City Cycles hosted a fundraiser, “Ride for our Homies,” on July 18, they learned a couple of things about how to effectively stage these kinds of events.  The first was that their decision to use “selfies” – having five check points, and encouraging bicycle riders to stop and take a selfie photo at each one – turned out to be a great idea that drew praise from the participating riders.  “They loved it,” said Jessica Kinnee, who founded Retro City Cycles with her husband Dan. “They had a great time.”  

They also learned that the next time they have a fundraising event, they need to hold it at a different time of year. One of the biggest challenges, Kinnee said, was the unpredictable July weather.  “Unfortunately, it pretty much got rained out,” she said. “We didn’t have nearly the turnout that we had anticipated.  “But the people who did show up had a great time,” she added. “I think we’ll just have to try it again in the fall instead of in the summer.”  

On July 18, the Ivanhoe Village business launched its first-ever “Ride for our Homies” to raise money for the local charitable program H.O.P.E., or Helping Our People Eat.  The business at 1806 N. Orange Ave., came up with the idea of this special fund-raiser as a point-to-point, 10 mile bicycle race, and used the popular social media trend of taking selfies to make it more fun. There were five checkpoints, and at each one the riders were asked to stop and take a selfie. The rider who returned with all five selfies, and in the fastest time, won.  

Kinnee said the riders who entered the event thoroughly enjoyed both the ride and the concept, and everything went well – except for the weather.   “We had a quarter of the turnout that was anticipated, but they were so happy to do this,” she said. “They liked the ride.”   If they organize it again, she said, “We would definitely do different check points, just to make it different. But I think the whole thing, the way the setup was, and the way we operated the actual event, was fine. It was just the weather.”  

Pamela Elliott, who founded HOPE, said she was thrilled they organized the event to benefit the work she does feeding the homeless.   “We’re not a big, giant organization,” she said. “There’s just two of us. HOPE is a group I started in January. We’re not even an actual nonprofit yet. We’re not a church. We’re just a couple of people who saw a need.”  The concept is simple, she said: to encourage people to help them feed the homeless.  “We have 20 to 30 people who come out to eat at Lake Downey,” she said. “It’s every other Sunday that we do the gatherings in the park. I know that growing up, we had big Sunday dinners. I can’t imagine not being able to do that.” When she learned Retro City Cycle was organizing a fundraiser, Elliott said “I’m very excited about this. This is going to help tremendously.” 

Kinnee said they plan to organize another one in October, and added that they raised more than $100 for HOPE.   “We donated about $150, and they said that’s enough for two days of feeding, when they go out and make meals,” Kinnee said.   To learn more about HOPE and the work they do, call Elliott at 407-579-4286.

Story by Michael Freeman

Orlando Sentinel

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