CLEVELAND, Tenn.-A bike ride to benefit Cleveland's Habitat for Humanity chapter raised enough money to build an entire home, organizers said.
"We had a fantastic turnout today. We are overwhelmed at the community support," said Tammy Johnson, Habitat's coordinator for the Toyota of Cleveland Bike to Build event Saturday. It takes $40,000 to sponsor a Habitat home.
More than 700 riders and volunteers launched from Bradley Central High School, with cyclists taking on courses designed to challenge novices and experts alike.
At least 25 teams of five or more riders participated in the second annual Habitat benefit ride, as did many families and individuals. At least 20 local businesses and organizations sponsored the event and provided volunteers, food and drinks.
Event organizers added a 100-mile route to the regular 20K (12.4 miles), 50K (31.07 miles) and 100K (62 miles) courses this year. A special Red Carpet Ride option for the 100-mile course included timing chips and a rolling escort for strong, competitive riders.
Each course had at least one support and gear station for cyclists to refresh themselves with drinks, snacks and restroom breaks. Bradley County law enforcement, event volunteers, signs and road markings kept cyclists on their scenic routes through portions of McDonald, Black Fox, Hopewell and Candies Creek.
David Coulter, of Scott's Bikes, designed the routes with his brother Doug.
"It's a challenge we give ourselves to improve each year," David Coulter said.
Dr. Matt Ryerson, vice president of United Way of Bradley County, took part in the race and said it gives it provides "a great sense of accomplishment."
"It's life-changing, even to have a small role," Ryerson said.
Johnson said Habitat plans to dedicate the Bike to Build home in late May.
The recipient will be Letitia Smith, who will move in with her two young sons sometime this summer.
Smith said she has been in the Habitat for Humanity program since 2008, putting in the organization's required "sweat equity" before she can take possession of the new home and start making payments on it.
"This is a great thing the community does. It's a blessing," said Smith.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.