Well, yes. And no.
RAGBRAI itself is not a charity fundraising project. It is sponsored and run by the Des Moines Register. As far as I know, they run it for profit. (Though they do help sponsor "The Dream Team" - a team of at-risk youth from Des Moines.)
I figured that this would be a great opportunity, then, to raise money for a charity. I quickly decided on the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF). You know, the LIVESTRONG folks. They do great work helping cancer patients and their loved ones, giving them the resources and support they need to fight the disease. And, it's pretty obvious, isn't it? Charity fundraiser and bicycling could only mean Lance.
Another reason I chose to raise money for LAF is that in 1982, cancer took the life of my sister Julie, who was 21 at the time. (F*#& cancer!) So, that made it a trifecta of reasons to focus my efforts on LAF.
(chalkbot message on the roads of France during Le Tour)
I didn't know it at the time, but there was already a Team LIVESTRONG on RAGBRAI. When I sent in a request about how to raise money for LAF, I was invited to join the team. (By then, I was already hooked up with Mike & Britt and Team WiscAWESOME.) They also let me set up a donation page on their team site so donors could contribute directly to LAF there.
RAGBRAI XXXVIII was scheduled for 442 miles. I decided to try and raise $10 for each mile I would ride - or $4,420. Kind of an ambitious goal, I know.
I also knew that if I were to have a shot at making that goal, I'd need some help. So I called a friend of mine, Lisa, who happens to be the financial advisor for my employer and asked if her company might be interested in sponsoring me for the week. I suggested that the sponsorship could be $3/mile ($1326) + pay for a couple of jerseys with their logo that I would wear for the week.
Lisa was excited about this and passed my request on to the non-profit foundation that the company has. With her support, the Baird Foundation agreed to send a check for $1500 to LAF. Internally, there are a lot of Baird employees who ride and they have their own bike jersey. Lisa got me a couple of those to wear. I took the liberty of getting them modified slightly to link Baird to LIVESTRONG and to honor my sister.
With the generous support of family, friends, colleagues, and people & companies I deal with in my line of work, I easily surpassed my original goal of $4420. With this support, I upped my goal to $15/mile, or $6630. That may have been an over-reach, but I have raised $5,876.80 so far. (You can still help my reach $6630 by donating here. hint)
In addition to the Baird Foundation, I especially want to thank Avery Railing and my brother Jim, Health Partners, and Stephanie & Dave at National Insurance Services for donating at least $1/mile to LAF.
By the way, I ended up being the #2 fundraiser on Team LIVESTRONG 2010. So, thank you for your support!
I had trained over 2,000 miles to get ready and I raised some money for a great cause. Now, it was time to ride RAGBRAI XXXVIII. Next post: Meeting Team WiscAWESOME and heading to Sioux City.