“This is our 15th year,” said Gordon Gilley, chief professional officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County. “It’s funny how it’s evolved. It’s gone from literally two to three volunteers with 100 riders throughout Cartersville and Bartow County to now we’ll have between  and 800 riders, 200 volunteers, five rest stops, a full lunch following the event, water stations, SAG vehicles, which are the support vehicles that go around. .. So it’s fully supported.”
To participate in the Cartersville Century, cyclists can register at the event at 6 a.m. or sign up online at www.cartersvillecentury.org. Starting and ending at Dellinger Park in Cartersville, the ride features an 8 a.m. mass start and four distances for individuals to select from: 15 miles, 30 miles, 50 miles and 100 miles. Entry fees are $45 per person.
“In the last couple of years, it’s been hot as blazes,” Cartersville Century Chairman Walt Sullins said. “Year before last, we rode in 106 degrees. It was the hottest day of the year and we had 235 [to 240] people finish the 100-mile ride. ... I feel a lot of people ride to support the Boys & Girls Clubs. There’s many, many, many rides out there to choose from and ... I honest to goodness feel like some people, if they’re going to ride six centuries in a summer ... let’s make Cartersville one of them, it’s a good cause.
“... [We also receive] tremendous support [from the community]. I mean everything from the board members helping us pull it together to the various churches that let us use their facilities for rest stops to the people, the volunteers, that man our rest stops, the sponsors that pay for our rest stops, Cartersville police, Bartow County Sheriff’s department. When we kick [the ride] off ... in the morning, we’re led out in mass by Cartersville police. They block Highway 113 to let us cross. [So] there’s not many people that don’t support us.”
Based on past years’ attendances, Gilley expects the benefit to net between $40,000 and $50,000, which will account for about 10 percent of the nonprofit’s annual budget.
Opened in May 1990 at the Goodyear Clubhouse in the Atco community, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County features two locations — 642 Henderson Drive in Cartersville and 127 King St. in Adairsville — and serves over 300 children a day with its summer program. During the school year and the summer, the units offer youth ages 6 to 18 supplemental education, cultural enrichment, and activities like basketball, and arts and crafts.
“It is the only viable resource for a vast majority of our members,” Gilley said. “It’s a youth development agency that offers services every single day after school during the school year [and] all day during the summer from 7:30 [a.m.] to 5:30 [p.m.]. ... Although the Boys & Girls Clubs [is] a private youth development agency, we really stress supplemental education, health and PE, social [recreation, and] cultural enrichment with our collaboration with the Booth [Western Art Museum] and the [Bartow] History Museum and Tellus [Science Museum].
“So it’s a well-rounded program that meets the needs and interests of all of our members, whether they’re a scholar or an athlete. I always try to keep in mind that we provide our members a moral compass for lack of a better word. We want them to be employable. We want them to be civic-minded, good citizens and educated and to finish high school and go on to [obtain] postgraduate degrees, if possible.”
For more information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County, call 770-382-5500.