Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CHaFE 150 Will Benefit Panhandle Alliance for Education's Ready! For Kindergarten Program

On February 24th, voters in the Lake Pend Oreille School District went to the polls and with approximately 60% voting yes, they expressed their desire for a replacement levy to help keep certain programs and staffing in place. But even with its passage, there will still be cuts made to teaching staff, elementary school counseling programs, as well as a reduction in the number of computers in the district.

But thanks to an organization formed in 2002, The Panhandle Alliance for Education, deficits in this district are not nearly what they could be. Panhandle Alliance is a non-profit education foundation whose mission is to enhance the quality of education through supplementing taxpayer financed programs. The desired result is a higher academic achievement level across the board for all students in the district.
Stacy Wasserman Temple joined the Board of Directors for Panhandle Alliance for Education four years ago. A strong advocate for children and education, she currently is on the grants committee for Panhandle Alliance.

“I am very excited by what we (Panhandle Alliance) offer the teachers and administrators. Our goal is to have them bring innovation and out of the box thinking and ideas to all the schools,” said Wasserman Temple. “But we definitely fund some of the fundamentals needed as well. For instance we paid for anatomy text books for the anatomy class at the high school. “

According to Wasserman Temple, the total amount given to the Lake Pend Oreille School In just six years totals $1,200,000. Examples of some of the grants given include money for before and after school tutoring, mobile computer labs, employment of a career / college guidance counselor for Sandpoint High School and many, many more.

But like anything else, it all takes money.

As part of its fundraising activities, the Panhandle Alliance for Education will hold its second annual Cycle Hard For Education (CHaFE 150) on June 13th, 2009. A 150 mile bike ride, last year the 68 participants – some from as far away as Seattle - raised over $50,000.

While last year was a huge success, organizers have made changes to this year’s event that they hope will bring even more participants.

“We have shifted the annual CHaFE 150 ride date from a September ride to June 13, 2009, picking a summer date that falls between other large rides in the region,” said Brad Williams, treasurer of the Panhandle Alliance and organizer of the CHaFE event.

They are also giving participants the option of riding 75 of the 150 miles, offering a bus trip back to the finish line from the turnaround point of Troy, MT.
“Registration will be Friday June 12th at Panhandle State Bank,” said Williams. “That as well as the finish area at City Beach are open to the public. We really encourage everyone to come out to both the registration and on the day of the event to support the riders who are out not just having a good time, but also who are supporting early childhood education.”

The ride takes participants through some of the most scenic areas of the Northwest. Riders begin at the Best Western Edgewater Resort in Sandpoint, and will receive a police escort through town. They will then proceed along Highway 200 and will travel along Lake Pend Oreille through river valleys and be treated to breathtaking views of three different ranges of the Rocky Mountains; the Selkirks, Cabinets and the Bitterroots. The return route will take riders South on Highway 95 through Bonners Ferry and what geologists have named the Purcell Trench which is a large valley formed by ancient glaciers.

But while the distance may provide a challenge to riders, organizers assure those contemplating the ride they will not encounter any major hills or mountain passes.

“The ride is long, but it does not have any real climbs,” said Williams. “If you compare this ride to a ride like RATPOD in Dillon, CHaFE is about 15 miles longer but does not have nearly the elevation change that RAPTOD does. CHaFE follows river courses through most of the route.”

A native of Libby, Montana, Williams said he has been dreaming of an organized ride along Highway 200 and Montana Highway 56 since he was in high school when he frequently biked those routes. He brought the idea of a bike ride such as this to different non-profit organizations over the last decade, but Williams said Panhandle Alliance was the one that had the resources to make this a reality.

Like last year, this year’s proceeds will go to benefit one of Panhandle Alliance’s newer programs - Ready! For Kindergarten, an early childhood education program aimed at helping new parents and disadvantaged kids. According to Panhandle Alliance, many children attending school in Lake Pend Oreille School District come from disadvantaged families. But one way to significantly increase a child’s likelihood of succeeding is to focus on early literacy in the first stages of development.

According to those involved with the Ready! For Kindergarten program, children learn more in their first three years of life than at any other stage. The Ready! program is designed, with the assistance of trained teachers, to empower and educate parents on how to be not only the first, but also the most influential teachers in their children’s lives.

To raise as much money as possible to support this program, Williams said that all participants in CHaFE are encouraged to raise donations from their supporters and said rewards will be given for the top fundraisers.

With enrollment limited to 250 participants Williams encourages people to sign up as soon as possible.

“CHaFE is challenging,” said Williams. “Our goal is to provide a great experience. The roads are good, the scenery is world class, and we provide food and support that are better than that available at any of the other rides in the region.”

For more information or to register, go to www.chafe150.org.

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