Foster youth, Amgen tour get share of GranFondo charity ride's $248,000 haul
Published: Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 3:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 7, 2013 at 8:17 a.m.
The King Ridge GranFondo benefit ride last year raised $248,000, which is being doled out now to a dozen organizations.
The largest donation, $160,000, is being given to Forget Me Not Farm, a program of the Sonoma County Humane Society for foster youth.
The city of Santa Rosa's committee that organizes the local Amgen Tour of California event receives the second largest chunk at $60,000.
"It starts us off in the right direction with fundraising efforts," said Raissa de la Rosa, economic development specialist with the city, who is in charge of the local tour organizing committee. "It eases our minds."
An additional $28,000 is donated to the Cazadero, Timber Cove, Fort Ross, Monte Rio, Occidental and Camp Meeker fire districts, to Fort Ross and Montgomery schools, the Cazadero Community Services District and Russian River Rodeo. Those groups are in the west county area that is heavily affected by the ride.
"These are the folks who have a lot of guests coming through their neighborhood for the day," said Greg Fisher, marketing director for the ride. "We want to demonstrate the value that cycling brings to that area."
The Levi Leipheimer King Ridge GranFondo, the proper name, has been staged four times, the last two times drawing 7,500 riders.
The 35-, 65- and 100-mile routes take the riders from Santa Rosa to Occidental, Cazadero and the coast and back.
It was initially started to raise money for Santa Rosa's cost of putting on stages of the Tour of California.
This year, the Santa Rosa organizing committee needs to raise about $325,000 to host the finish of the final stage of the race, which attracts some of the top international riders and teams.
Recently, however, the fondo has shifted focus to the Forget Me Not Farm, a favored charity for professional bike racer Levi Leipheimer and his wife, Odessa Gunn, who live in Santa Rosa.
Registration for the next ride, scheduled for Oct. 5, will open on the morning of Jan. 14.
The ride has been popular, drawing riders from throughout the United States, Canada and Europe and selling out every year.
The registration for 4,000 spots for the 100-mile ride usually sell out within four days. There are 2,500 spots for the medio route and 1,000 for the piccolo route, which are usually open much longer.
Fisher said the ride this year will have the same route and will be limited to the same number of riders, but they hope to expand the festival that is held in conjunction with the ride at the Finley Center, the ride's start and finish.
It's unknown whether the event will suffer this year as part of the fallout of recent revelations by riders, including Leipheimer, namesake of the Sonoma County ride, of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs and blood doping.
"The people who know this event, who have participated in it, recognize it as a quality event in its own right. But its fanfare, its ability to attract people from all over the world, depends on Levi," Fisher said. "We will see how it goes."
You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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