Sunday, February 21, 2010

CHaFE 150 Registration is Open

The mountaintops may still be covered with snow, but that isn’t stopping people from thinking and planning for warm sunny days. With registration already open for the third annual CHaFE 150, bicycle riders are eagerly planning their training schedules for the June 12 event.

CHaFE 150 – which stands for Cycle Hard for Education – is a 150-mile bike ride hosted by Panhandle Alliance for Education, a nonprofit organization that raises funds which go toward providing programs and educational opportunities for youth and families.

“Our goal is to provide funding for innovative, strategic and competitive grant programs to encourage excellence,” said Brad Williams, the treasurer for Panhandle Alliance.

According to Williams, last year’s race raised $33,000, all of which went to fund the Panhandle Alliance’s Ready! for Kindergarten program.

Ready! is a national program put on by Panhandle Alliance with support from Lake Pend Oreille School District and the National Children’s Reading Foundation. The philosophy behind the program is that children learn best when taught by someone they love and trust – their parents or caregivers.

The Saturday classes are taught to parents of children through age 5 and are geared toward promoting interaction between the children and their parents and caregivers in a way that will promote literacy, math and social skills.

According to Williams, Panhandle Alliance budgeted $62,000 for this school year’s Ready! program, and the popularity of the classes has indicated that it will only grow, making it critical that they raise as much as possible through the bike ride.

“The enrollment for the program exceeded our expectations in the first year and was expanded for this second year,” said Geraldine Lewis, the director of events and fundraising for Panhandle Alliance. “We hope the ride continues to grow in its fundraising power, so we can continue to meet the needs of families in the Ready! program.”

Tracy Gibson is the coordinator for the Ready! program and said the impact on families has been significant.

“Our enrollment always exceeds the room we have available. Currently we have seven full classes. It is growing as fast as we can round up the people power,” said Gibson, adding that the program requires teachers, child care providers, volunteers and Panhandle Alliance board members to pull off every session. “Remarkably, we have an overwhelming number of people who can see the importance of early childhood education and volunteer their time.”

Registration for the CHaFE 150 opened Feb. 10 and participation is limited to 300 people. The Facebook page has more than 160 members.

The route for the June 12 ride begins in Sandpoint and heads north toward Canada before taking riders east into Montana. Riders will enjoy beautiful scenery of the Bull and Clark Fork Rivers with breathtaking views of the Cabinet Mountains as well as the majestic shore of Lake Pend Oreille, something Williams said is a distinguishing factor from other rides.

“What distinguishes us from other rides are really two things: first, the roads and scenery. Our route is really world-class. Few other places have our scenery and light-traffic roads,” said Williams. “The second is our support. Geraldine (Lewis, the event organizer) has organized a ride that has the best support of any ride in the region.”

The ride’s break stops are manned by volunteer groups who Williams said go out of their way to provide creative ways to feed and support the riders.

“We have a rotating trophy going to the break stop group that provides the most innovative and interesting experience (to the riders),” he said.

Last year organizers introduced the ½ CHaFE for riders not yet ready for the full 150-mile ride. This year that 80-mile route will begin in Troy, Mont. – with CHaFE organizers busing the participants to Montana. It will end in Sandpoint, where all participants will be treated to food and entertainment upon crossing the finish line.

The goal is to have each participant raise at least $500 in pledges, which will go a long way to assisting the Ready! program.

“Organizationally, our goal is fundraising,” said Williams. “However, our goal for the participants is to take a reasonable amount of time so that it is a fun experience. We want them to have a great day and come back year after year.”


The third annual Cycle Hard for Education starts in Sandpoint.

Ride length: 150 miles or 80 miles

Cost: $120

To register: Visit (

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