It has been a challenging year in so many ways. Across the country, we’ve been facing hard times on a scale not seen in generations, and those hardships have put a new focus on priorities in life. While we can’t say that trails are life and death, they’re essential. And we’re proud to be able to keep them growing strong.
This spring, the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge named MMBA as the recipient of a new fundraising effort. The thousands of racers signing up for the 2020 edition of the race had the option to donate directly to MMBA, and they did. By the time registration for the race closed last month, the effort raised over $16,000 to support Michigan Mountain Biking Association!
All the while, race after race throughout the spring and summer calendar fell to the coronavirus. Responsible, concerned race organizers tried any number of procedures to keep participants safe, only to realize the risks were simply too great. Erring on the side of safety and caution, events that serve is important fundraising avenues for all sorts of non-profits, including trail associations, postponed or canceled their 2020 races. Event those who found a late summer or fall date was ultimately forced to wait until 2021 to try to race again.
Those cancelations have led to big budget shortfalls for non-profit organizations across the state, and our affiliate trail associations are in the exact same boat. Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association, for example, had not one but all three of its summer fundraisers canceled. When Barry-Roubaix canceled, it meant West Michigan Mountain Bike Alliance wouldn’t get a chance to earn money pouring beer at the finish. And it’s not just races, either. Member meetings, group rides, and other in-person fundraising efforts were also put on hold, which also put more responsibility for building and maintenance on the associations’ already maxed-out trail crews.
For many of these associations, these challenges have meant stopping or delaying trail projects promised last fall or this past spring. As summer months flew by in lockdown, those plans, and the fundraising efforts that make them possible, were put into jeopardy.
Finally, in the middle of August, the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge became the latest and perhaps largest event to cancel this year’s race. The move has put the organization into financial uncertainty, but they’ve remained enthusiastic and committed to their generous donation. Kat Paye and the Festival Foundation staff that now own the race understand that non-profit organizations need help to keep moving forward.
Our plan is to use these funds to support our affiliate chapters to meet budget shortfalls and on-going costs for trail building and maintenance. We’ll be highlighting what some of those projects are into the winter of 2020 and all the way until the 2021 edition of Iceman to show you what dedicated mountain bikers have helped to create with their generous donations.
You can help keep the good stuff coming by donating your 2020 entry to the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge. Your support will help ensure that the non-profit Festival Foundation can weather the storm and put on a thrilling 31st edition of the race next year. To learn more about how to donate your entry, head here.
We’d like to thank all of the racers who have already donated their entries, as well as the thousands who donated to our fundraiser over the course of the past several months. There is no community that understands how to look out for each other like mountain bikers. Thank you all!
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