Last Modified: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 7:17 PM
The wheels are ready to be set in motion for the inaugural Wheels of Hope Charity Bicycle Ride for autism Saturday.
All funds raised through the event will go directly to the St. Nicholas Center for Children — a nonprofit organization that provides applied behavioral analysis therapy, as well as services, to families of children with autism, developmental delays and neurological disorders.
Michelle Mudd, a St. Nicholas Center volunteer, said the idea for a charity bike ride was chosen because it is something different.
“This is something that could be done to make a difference close to home,” she said. “A five-route approach was decided, and a lot of support poured out from the community and people that have done bike rides before. It’s kind of a beautiful story; we wanted to do something great for these kids.”
The five routes range from 10 miles to 75 miles, and all begin and end at St. Theodore Holy Family Catholic School, 785 Sam Houston Jones Parkway. The 10-mile route is a family ride that goes through Sam Houston Jones State Park. The other four routes travel around the West Fork of the Calcasieu River.
Mudd said the event will add to other events the center uses to raise money and awareness.
“We think having a bike ride will open up the opportunity to participate for the community while helping local children receive services,” she said. “We are reaching an entirely different audience with this, and it’s a fun event too.”
Mudd said she wanted to involve herself with the event because she is “very passionate” about helping the children who receive services at the center, and reaching children that may need the services St. Nicholas provides.
“I can see the results of what the center is doing in families and children’s lives in our community,” she said. “That is very exciting to me, by being a part of this charity bike ride I can directly impact the lives of these children.”
At 11 a.m., Mudd said Taste of Louisiana will be held for riders and volunteers with classic Louisiana food — jambalaya, gumbo, boudin.
Prizes, including iPads and TVs, will be awarded to the top 10 riders who raise the most funds.
Mudd said it’s “pretty amazing how awesome the prizes we have are.”
Every rider will receive a gift bag with a T-shirt.
“We are trying to get everyone pumped up and into a fundraising war with friends and family to get the totals up,” she said.
Mudd said there isn’t a goal for the amount of funds they hope to raise in their first bike ride, but they are expecting a large number of people to participate.
“Being that this is our first year to hold the event, just knowing that we have all these wonderful community sponsors is huge,” she said. “Knowing that all the funds we raise is going to help the children and families we serve too is motivation enough.”
Mudd said organizers of the event hope it “takes fire” and gets bigger each year.
Participants can register online at www.active.com or 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Friday at Capitol Cyclery, 615 East Prien Lake Road.
Early registration costs $35 per adult and $15 per child.
Riders can also register 6-7:15 a.m. the morning of the event. Registration the day of the event is $40 per adult and $20 per child.
The ride will begin at 7:30 a.m.