Spinning® Marathon Raises $200K
Contribution from: Luciana Marcial-Vincion and Rebecca Young, co-owners of Charleston RIDE™, event founder Jodi Bateman-Forney, and Spinning instructor Allyson Carter.
1. Why did you choose the Spinning® program to raise money for Pattison's Academy?
We, the organizers, are Spinning® instructors. It was a natural fit. We all know that the Spinning program has the power to ignite the human spirit. It was fate that Pattison's Academy found us. When these two forces—Pattison's Academy and the Spinning program—united, the energy created was explosive! Our event is not just a ride, it's a journey, and the mind-body connection that we get through the Spinning program is conducive to what we try to create for our participants.
2. Tell us about Pattison's Academy and it’s connection to Charleston RIDE™.
Pattison's Academy is a non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of children with severe and/or multiple disabilities. They serve these children through their charter school, Pattison's Academy for Comprehensive Education (P.A.C.E), and their summer camp, the only therapeutic summer camp in our area for these children and one of only a handful in the country. The owners and most of the instructors of Charleston RIDE™ have been involved with this event since its first year in 2008. The most interesting thing is that this event has bonded this group of Spinning instructors like nothing else ever could. Pedal4Pattison's and the children of Pattison's Academy prepared us for this journey called Charleston RIDE.
3. How long do you prepare each year for this Spinning marathon?
We reserve the facility one year in advance and spend time reviewing the previous year's ride (what we need to change, what went well, etc.) We begin securing sponsorships 4–5 months in advance, and then the 3 months prior to the event is the most intensive preparation time.
4. What do you do to market the event?
The event is held in the beginning of March. Posters of the event go up in December of the year prior. Participant registration is six weeks prior to the event. During this six weeks, participants create FirstGiving fundraising webpages and the fundraising begins! This is also the time that our advertising ramps up with print ads in our local newspapers. Of course we also use social media, send news releases, and channel information via the Charleston RIDE website. Our main source of communication is through e-mail newsletters to our database. We create videos of the past summer camps, promo videos of the event and human interest videos of participants, Pattison Academy children and their parents. These videos are e-mailed to the riders weekly and played in our Spinning classes. This motivates riders who have already participated, and it helps to educate new students about the children and the event. Once someone participates, s/he is "hooked", and s/he in turn brings other riders and more awareness to Pattison's. We also use the old-fashioned word of mouth form of advertising. Honestly, we can't stop talking about our cause. Our local newspaper said at one point, “the organizers are obsessed.” We would wholeheartedly agree!
5. What do you think has made this event so successful over the past 5 years?
This fundraiser is unique because the children of Pattison's Academy actually participate in the event. We have an electric, adapted bike on the stage and different children ride with us for the entire 4 hours, rotating just as the instructors do. Also, the families of the children come and bring the children through the ride in their wheelchairs to support the riders. They high five, hug and kiss the participants. It is extremely motivating, humbling and emotional all at the same time. The energy in the room is incredible, and people want to be part of something like that. In addition, we believe the event is such a big success because the people of the Charleston, Spinning and cycling communities come together and take personal ownership of their involvement. Everyone involved has a special place in their hearts for the children and they take great pride in the amount of money they raise. And every year, participants find out they want to spend more time on the bike and raise even more money than the previous year. It also doesn't hurt that this event is like a major rock concert. All the best equipment, lighting and staging possible, star-quality instructors, of course all Spinner® bikes, complete hydration and energy food that is delivered personally to each rider throughout the event, door prizes handed out every hour, fabulous grand prizes awarded at the end for top fundraisers, cool giveaway event shirts and also retail logo wear for purchase, and oh, a little celebrity connection that always lights up the room. Darius Rucker has a personal connection to the school and he shares a few motivating words with the riders via a video at the beginning of the ride that sets the room on fire...it truly is unbelievable the joy, laughter and tears of happiness that are created in that room! It's the perfect storm of all the right elements coming together as one.
6. As a business owner, why do you think it is important to do charity events?
We were doing this charity event before we were business owners. However, now that we have a Spinning studio, we feel even more blessed that our business can be used as a Pedal4Pattison’s headquarters: a training center for participants, a hub for volunteers, sponsors and staff meetings, and an information resource for all those involved with the event. We receive more than we could ever give. Our living room at RIDE is dedicated to the children. There is a huge mural on the wall showing the smiling faces of the kids. We get to walk in every day and be reminded of the beauty of life and to carry gratitude and joy with us everywhere. We also believe that as Charleston business owners it is part of our duty to help the community thrive. It is absolutely incredible how many local Charleston businesses work with us to pull together this magical day.
7. Do you have a favorite moment from this year’s event?
There are so many moments! This day is like a magical dream. We believe the magic starts with the first few notes of our opening song that we use every year: "One Perfect Sunrise." Then we know the journey is at hand—all the children begin coming in and they are so HAPPY! They know it is their day and they do like to party! They dance, they ride their bikes, they smile, they high five you. It's just incredible watching them shine—it is their one day to be a part of a team and their joy is indescribable. The smiles on everyone's faces, happy children, tears of joy and love are always our fondest memories. There is rarely ever a dry eye to be found. Oh and then of course...the announcement: over $200,000.00 raised! More than double the goal. For the children of Pattison's Academy! YES!
8. If people who don’t live in the Charleston area, but want to support the Pattison Academy, how can they?
They can form a team on www.FirstGiving.com and raise money to donate toward next year's ride, or they can go to www.pattisonsacademy.org and find the "donate" link. We would love to work with anyone who might want to raise money for our event, and they can contact us at [email protected] or [email protected].