USA Pro Challenge: Summit County nonprofit organizations take advantage of cycling event
August 20, 2013
With the USA Pro Challenge racing through Breckenridge and briefly bringing with it an international spotlight, many are jumping at the chance to affiliate themselves in some way with the event, through volunteering, selling promotional material or providing Pro Challenge business deals, for example.
An event like the Pro Challenge that brings crowds and attention is perfect for nonprofit organizations, as a method of raising awareness and getting their message out to a larger group of people. Below are a few examples of where you can find nonprofits amongst the cycling fever and festivities.
Summit Foundation ducks
Among the many booths and vendors along the Breckenridge streets, the Summit Foundation is selling ducks for its upcoming Great Rubber Duck Races on Aug. 31. This is the 26th year of the event and the foundation's third year at the USA Pro Challenge.
“This little guy was just tremendous. He was just all about the Strider bike, and the confidence and passion and love for riding and being outside was just amazing. So we thought that it would make a ton of sense to honor him by creating The Axel Project.”
Advisor to The Axel Project
"Last year was absolutely fantastic. In one day we raised over $2,000 selling ducks," said Elisabeth Lawrence, events and marketing coordinator for the Summit Foundation. This year is expected to be just as successful, if not more so.
In the duck race, thousands of rubber ducks, each marked with a buyer's name or business name, are dropped into the Blue River and swept downstream, jostling against one another, to be retrieved at the finish line by the River Walk Center in Breckenridge.
There will be three separate duck races — the Kids Duck Dash, the Business Battle Duck Race and the Great Rubber Duck Race. The prizes, worth thousands of dollars and including big items such as a private group snow cat experience for the business winner and a weeklong vacation at a chosen destination for the individual race, have been donated by local businesses.
Ducks for any of the three races can be purchased at a number of locations throughout the county, including during the USA Pro Challenge festivities when it is in town. In addition to race ducks, people can buy souvenir ducks (little ducks with personality decorations such as moustache, princess outfits, etc.), as well as t-shirts, cups, bags and a variety of other duck-related items. All proceeds go to the Summit Foundation.
The foundation supports a range of organizations and programs throughout the county, including scholarships for local high school students.
This year, the duck buying is even more interactive. When someone buys a duck, he or she can then choose one of six buckets to drop a token into. Each bucket represents a different nonprofit category that the Summit Foundation supports — arts and culture, education, environment, health and human services, sports and recreation and neighboring communities.
"So when people buy a duck, they can drop a little token in the bucket that they most want to support," Lawrence said. "People can get a good idea of what we support and that the ducks really make a difference, so when they buy a duck that money gets back out to the community."
The Axel Project
Partnering with Strider bikes, The Axel Project will be taking part in all stages of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge.
Strider bikes, produced by Strider Sports International, are designed for the youngest of riders, from 18 months to 5 years of age, and do not have pedals, making it easy for children to propel themselves along.
The Axel Project was created this year in order to honor Axel Charrette, a native of Ridgway, Colo., who was tragically murdered at 2 years old. Coming from a family of avid cyclists, Axel took to his own Strider bike at 10 months, visiting 16 states and three countries.
"This little guy was just tremendous," said Brian Scranton, advisor to The Axel Project and longtime family friend of the Charrettes'. "He was just all about the Strider bike, and the confidence and passion and love for riding and being outside was just amazing. So we thought that it would make a ton of sense to honor him by creating The Axel Project."
Each Pro Challenge finish stage will feature a Strider bike Adventure Zone, where children under 5 years old can ride an obstacle course on Strider bikes. The Axel Project works to donate Strider bicycles to community organizations that focus on needy preschool-age children.
The High Country Conservation Center (HC3) wants to make sure that Breckenridge's two stages of the Pro Challenge remain as zero-waste as possible. In order to do this, they have gathered 75 volunteers around 20 waste stations spread throughout the event area.
"These big events can be pretty big trash producers," said Cassidy Callahan, programs coordinator for HC3.
Easily identifiable, each of the zero-waste tents separates recyclables from compostables from plain-old trash. Much of the waste will likely go into the compost section, Callahan said. All three types of waste will be taken away by more volunteers to be properly disposed of once receptacles are full.
"Everyone at the tent has been given an orientation to be told what goes where," she added, "so they're very knowledgeable and can tell people where it goes, so folks know that this stuff won't just all end up in the landfill."