Tour de Gem is a gem of an event

Thumbs up from Pete Willis, one of the more than 200 riders who supported a local organization in the last in-person event in 2019. CONTRIBUTED
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Thumbs up from Pete Willis, one of the more than 200 riders who supported a local organization in the last in-person event in 2019. CONTRIBUTED

A tiny nonprofit with a big heart – the Caring Response Madagascar Foundation is exactly the type of organization the Tour de Gem strives to support.

“We have no paid staff,” board member Ariel Miller said. “We focus on health and literacy work in Madagascar and we send every dollar we can, that’s why this event is so wonderful.”

In its fourth year, the Tour De Gem was the brainchild of Gerry Chadwick and Scott Backer who rode together in the El Tour de Tucson in 2016. They set out to bring cycling, charities and communities together back home in Dayton and the Tour de Gem was born.

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The cycling event is designed to highlight the many gems the Miami Valley has to offer from picturesque parks to historic landmarks while raising much-needed funds for local non-profit organizations. Participating organizations create ride teams, with riders using the event as a fundraising opportunity. Individual riders can also join a team created by a charity they support.

Last year’s event was held virtually as a result of the pandemic but still raised more than $60,000 and had more than 200 participants. Tour de Gem has helped local nonprofits raise more than $200,000 since its inception. This year’s goal is 300 riders and $80,000.

“I believe we’ll exceed both goals due the outreach we’re making to the participating nonprofits to help them be successful in their team building and fundraising,” Chadwick said. “Additionally, we have several teams that are just getting registered that could result in a large block of riders and fundraising.”

The Tour de Gem has raised more than $200,000 for local nonprofit organizations since its inception. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
The Tour de Gem has raised more than $200,000 for local nonprofit organizations since its inception. CONTRIBUTED

Miller’s Clean Water Lemurs squad is just one of the more than 30 teams already registered. We Care Arts, Brigid’s Path, Girls on the Run of Dayton, JDRF of Southwest and Central Ohio, SICSA and the Ronald McDonald House Charities are just a few of the varied participating organizations.

“The beauty of this is that, often, the big guys make all the money while the little ones struggle and that’s not the case with this event,” Chadwick said.

This year’s event – The Wright Brothers 2021 Cycling Classic – will incorporate a live ride on Oct. 10, as well as a virtual option which runs from Sept. 24-Oct. 10. The Tour de Gem committee handles the logistics of the ride, enabling the organizations to focus on recruiting riders and soliciting donations.

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“This hybrid event is just brilliant,” Miller said. “It lets anyone who is interested be a part of it.”

The in-person event will begin at RiverScape MetroPark, but the virtual ride can be any route you choose. The two-week window enables riders to log their miles – or hours for indoor bike riders – at their own pace.

“People are definitely excited for the live ride but we had talked, from the beginning, about wanting to have a virtual component,” Chadwick said. “Last year just prompted us to do it right away.”

And those Dayton gems, the riders, pedal to make a definite impact.

“I’m falling in love with the Miami Valley,” Miller said.

For more information, visit www.ms-stride.org/tourdegem.

Contact this contributing writer at djuniewicz@gmail.com.