Started in 2000, the benefit has flourished through the years, now attracting nearly 1,000 participants from throughout the Southeast. The Cartersville Century, which also offers cyclists rest stops every 10 to 15 miles along the course and a post-ride meal, is expected to net $50,000.
“The century is our premier fundraising event for the clubs annually. It has been kind of that leading event for us for a number of years now,” said Matthew Gambill, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County board member and chairman of its resource development committee. “It’s grown really to a regional event. The majority of our riders come from the metro-Atlanta area, and we’ll have close to 1,000 riders that will participate in the ride on Saturday, [June 29].
“In talking to different people that I work with who have participated in the ride and who are from the Atlanta area, they tell me that the No. 1 reason that they ride in it is not only does it benefit the good cause but the ride is well-coordinated and well-marked. [They also were impressed with] the number of rest stops that we have for riders. ... Each of our rest stops is managed by [a local] company or nonprofit organization, like the Rotary Club is the sponsor for our Kingston stop and they have for years done that. So it’s really a community event, where multiple groups are involved in helping us pull this thing off.”
To participate in the Cartersville Century, cyclists can register at the event at 6 a.m. June 29 or sign up online at www.cartersvillecentury.org. Starting and ending at Dellinger Park in Cartersville, the 8 a.m. ride features four distances for individuals to select from: 15 miles, 30 miles, 50 miles and 100 miles. Entry fees are $35 through midnight June 20 and $45 per person afterward.
“[The Cartersville Century] is about a seventh of our operating budget,” said Gordon Gilley, chief professional officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County. “We run two full Boys & Girls Clubs on $350,000 a year. So we’re really good stewards with the support that we garner.
“... This event is kind of the best of both worlds. It takes local support [in the form of] our sponsors with predominantly probably 90 percent of our riders [being] from throughout the Southeast. So it brings in new money to the community to help support a local nonprofit and, at the same time, they spend a ton of money in town outside of this event. And, of course, it helps serve both our clubs in Cartersville and Adairsville in the middle of, as usual, a very, very active summer program.”
Opened in May 1990 at the Goodyear Clubhouse in the Atco community, the local offering became the first chartered club in the nation to reach out to boys and girls with the name of its organization. The temporary location drew 110 children in its first week and 400 by the end of the year.
Today, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County features two locations — 642 Henderson Drive in Cartersville and 127 King St. in Adairsville — and serves about 325 children a day with its summer program. During the school year and the summer, the units offer youth ages 6 to 18 supplemental education and activities like arts and crafts, basketball and board games.
“We’re all for intervening if we have to but our goal is to prevent the negative behaviors to happen in the first place,” Gilley said. “We can educate a young person. We stress supplemental education. We’ve got cultural enrichment with our partners at the Booth [Western Art Museum] and The Resource Center. We [also work really closely] with city and the county school systems.
“What we want to do is educate and take a young person between the ages of 6 and 18 and make them morally responsible with a compass and a civic mindedness and [a] contributing member of society, not the other — not a drain. We intervene if we have to, but we’d much rather take a young, pliable, impressionable 6-year-old and develop them into a high school or college graduate that are strong in the workforce, that have a family mentality [and] that they care about others in their community. That’s our goal.”
For more information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County, call 770-382-5500.