Continuing to generate needed funding for Hickory Log Vocational School, the Beautiful Backroads Century will return Sept. 15.
As the event’s primary beneficiary, the personal care home that provides shelter and training for intellectually and developmentally disabled men has received more than $250,000 since the ride’s inception 17 years ago.
“This bike ride along with our annual United Way allocations are a huge lifeline to Hickory Log,” said Wendy Allen, Hickory Log’s executive director. “When I crunched the numbers last year, I realized the annual bike ride almost completely sustains Hickory Log for 27 days of the year. This isn't just 'cushion' money. This is heartbeat money. If there was no bike ride or United Way, Hickory Log would have possibly closed years ago. The funds we received last year purchased four new washers and dryers for us. The old ones had to be kicked or slammed a certain way to function.
“The funds also purchased some much needed kitchen items as well as helping with staffing costs. Oftentimes people think that $30, $40, $60 doesn't add up. It does. The bike ride funds mean our residents have a home. They have [a] community that loves them and [supports] them. They have family, whether natural or not.”
In its 18th year, Beautiful Backroads Century will depart at 8 a.m. from the Anheuser-Busch’s Cartersville brewery, 100 Busch Drive. Participants will have the opportunity to enter one of five distance rides — ranging from 15 to 100 miles — through Bartow and Gordon counties. The cost to enter is $60.
“I was a good friend of [the event’s founder] Jim Edwards and worked with him,” said Missy Bagwell, senior quality manager for Anheuser-Busch, who is serving as one of the event’s directors. “He originally got me involved in the event about five years after it started. When Jim retired and moved out of state, myself and Amruth Reddy decided to take over the ride. We saw what an impact the ride provided for Hickory Log and didn’t want the facility to lose the donation the ride was able to provide each year.
“We truly are blessed with the opportunity to help this organization and are very thankful for Anheuser-Busch to allow us to have the ride on the property,” she said, adding the event has grown from 250 riders in its first offering to an anticipated 1,300 participants this year. “Wendy Allen has done an incredible job with Hickory Log as their director the last couple of years, and we have seen the donation go a long way to help improve many lives of the men at the facility.”
Following the ride, bicyclists will be treated to lunch, live music and an opportunity to taste Anheuser-Busch products from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to http://bbcbikeride.com.
Situated at 3680 Highway 411 in White, Hickory Log was established in 1970 to meet the needs of Bartow County residents who before had to use out-of-county facilities.
Currently serving 21 men ranging in age from 38 to 82, Hickory Log features numerous residents who have resided at the facility for more than 20 years. The nonprofit also provides services to three individuals — one man and two women — living off-site.
“Hickory Log offers our residential program individuals an opportunity to live independent of their families with the needed supports in place,” Allen said. “This allows the resident to have a more natural relationship with their siblings instead of the sibling being the caregiver. For three of our residents, Hickory Log is the closest to a natural family they have. All of these gentlemen count on Hickory Log for daily life skills supports, such as maintaining their living spaces, hygiene, social skills, making and attending medical appointments, cooking, money management, community job supports for two individuals, community connections and transportation.
“Hickory Log has offered these programs to these [gentlemen] for many years. However, there have been some tweaks in the last year and half since I've been there. We have a group of residents that stayed home quite a bit due to age, medical conditions or inability to work. These residents used to only get out once or twice a week. It is not uncommon to see them in the community lots now. Several have enjoyed the senior aquatic center, many have enjoyed the library. There have been a couple of volunteer opportunities where these men were given the opportunity to share their gifts and give back, and we have a small group that regularly works out at a local gym. My most favorite [moment] is hearing our oldest resident tell me that he had no idea he knew how to cook. I told him it was in there all along — just undiscovered.”
Referring to the nonprofit's financial crisis last year, Allen extended thanks to the community for its ongoing assistance.
“Hickory Log had a pretty bleak future this time last year,” Allen said. “We were $223k in debt to the IRS due to previous leadership's poor choices. We were literally picking which bill to pay and praying we'd have enough to make payroll. Our community rallied around Hickory Log in way too many ways to mention and made sure that we survived. Words truly cannot express what the community has done for us financially, emotionally, spiritually and more.
"United Way hired a tax consultant and eight months into compiling all the paperwork to satisfy the IRS, we submitted paperwork last December requesting a formal 'Offer in Compromise' or settlement. This paperwork wasn't even expected to be assigned or reviewed until spring-fall of 2019. However, in May we were assigned an agent and the Thursday after Fourth of July we were granted freedom from that heavy burden. Hickory Log has to be financially responsible and, of course, on time with all tax payments for five years to uphold our end of the agreement.”
For more information about the bike ride, visit http://bbcbikeride.com. Further details about Hickory Log, can be obtained by calling 770-382-6655; or visiting the nonprofit’s Facebook page or website, www.hickorylog.org.