2012-10-05 / Sports Spotlight

Students prepared for annual bike-a-thon

Twenty-mile Columbus Day event benefits Frannie Peabody Center
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


The 26th annual Ed Wimert Memorial Bike and Walk-a-thon for AIDS, an annual fundraiser Scarborough Middle School holds for the Frannie Peabody Center in Portland is set to take place on Monday, Oct. 8. Last year’s event, seen above, raised more than $5,700 for the center, which provides service to those with AIDS and HIV. (File photo) The 26th annual Ed Wimert Memorial Bike and Walk-a-thon for AIDS, an annual fundraiser Scarborough Middle School holds for the Frannie Peabody Center in Portland is set to take place on Monday, Oct. 8. Last year’s event, seen above, raised more than $5,700 for the center, which provides service to those with AIDS and HIV. (File photo) Students from Scarborough Middle School will take to the streets on Columbus Day in a bike-a-thon to benefit the Frannie Peabody Center, an organization that provides services to people in Maine who have HIV and AIDS.

The event, which is scheduled to take place on Monday, Oct. 8, includes a 20-mile bike loop and 6-mile walk, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Clambake Restaurant on Pine Point Road.

The event, officially called the Ed Wimert Memorial Bike/Walk-a-thon, was started in 1986 to raise awareness about AIDS and HIV. Since it started, the event has raised more than $190,000.

Katie Rutherford, the center’s director of development, said over the past six years, the bike-a-thon has raised close to $58,000, including $5,728 in 2011. The money raised is a combination of donations and registration fees.

The money, Rutherford said, funds a lot of the center’s case management costs. The center services 531 individuals, including 430 who use case management services. The center’s mission is to prevent the spread of AIDS and HIV and provide support for those who have the disease in Maine.

“We provide all the services our clients need to live healthy lives,” Rutherford said. “That is one of the most important things we do and where most of the money goes towards.”

The bike-a-thon, Rutherford said, has helped create a strong bond between the Frannie Peabody Center and Scarborough Middle School.

“The fact that for so many years they have supported us and stayed committed to that support, even through all the changes and growth we have had over the years, really means a lot, particularly coming from a younger generation,” Rutherford said.

Scarborough Middle School Assistant Principal David Currier said the bike-a-thon has continued to grow since he first got involved with the event in 1987.

Currier said the bike-a-thon has transitioned from a few laps around the school parking lot to 20-mile bike course that stretches from Scarborough to Old Orchard Beach and involves many members of the Scarborough community.

Other local groups involved include the middle school staff and parents, the Scarborough Police Department, the Scarborough High School Student Council and Key Club and Scarborough Police Explorers.

“It is a great community event and it raises awareness,” Currier said. “It is a great event for the students and our school.”

Scarborough Middle School Principal Barbara Hathorn said the event helps the students realize the importance of community service.

“We are really focused on service learning here,” Hathorn said. “This is one of the many projects we do during the year. The students really believe in giving back and more and more they are becoming more passionate giving back to the people that need the help and support.”

Tom Griffin, a physical education and health teacher at the school, said the event began as an idea from a group of Scarborough Middle School students.

“The idea came from a classroom of students looking to do a service project,” said Griffin, who has been involved with the event since that initial conversation. “Twentyfi ve years ago, HIV and AIDS were talked about a lot. It was in the news all the time. These students understood that. They were concerned and wanted to do something to help.

“They stayed after school one day and rode around the parking lot,” Griffin continued. “It raised about $400 to $500 and we gave it to the AIDS Project, which is now the Peabody Center.”

The bike-a-thon and walk-a-thon is one of the largest fundraisers for the Peabody Center. The center, named for Maine HIV and AIDS activist Frances W. Peabody, was formed in 2002, when The AIDS Project merged with the Peabody House, a living facility for people with AIDS and HIV. The house has since closed.

While Rutherford said the event is a good source of funding for the Peabody Center; getting awareness out about AIDS and AIDS research is the most important part of holding such an event.

“For the students to take a stand and raise money consistently over the years has helped with our visibility in the local community and sets a good example for other children in the area, as well as adults,” Rutherford said.

“I look at it as a winwin,” Griffin said. “I look at it as a way to raise very valuable money for a great organization, while at the same time educating kids and making them more aware. Since the students are going door-to-door asking for donations, we are making personal connections with literally thousands of people in the community whether they donate of not.”

Rutherford said it is an event the kids don’t soon forget.

“No matter how much money is raised, this is an experience that will stay with the kids – and that is really the most important part,” Rutherford said.

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