The fifth annual Chai Lifeline Bike-a-thon took off Wednesday from Asbury Park, with the goal of reaching Camp Simcha in Glen Spey, N.Y. by Thursday evening, their efforts paid for by a nearly three million dollars in pledged sponsorships.
At 7:30 a.m., a ribbon was cut and 300 bikers took off on the 175-mile trip, raising a record amount of money to support the camp for sick children in the process. The bikers are riding for two days with a sleepover in Monsey on the way.
Dovid Egert, who started the event as a lone rider in 2009, told Hamodia last year that the project began when he was a volunteer at the camp but did not have bus transportation.
“I decided to bike up to Camp Simcha, because the camp said there are no bikes on the bus,” Egert said. “I said no problem, so I biked up to camp without the bus.”
Egert asked people to sponsor him by the mile. That year, he raised $10,000 for the weeklong camp experience for ill children. The bike ride has since grown into a popular event, with 40 bikers in 2010, 150 in 2011, and 200 last year.
With the growing number of bikers comes a larger profit for the camp. Last year they raised more than $1.6 million, and amount which nearly doubled this year, to $2,670,063.
The bikers are accompanied by a medical staff as well as with Hatzolah volunteers. They wore T-shirts with the words “bike4Chai” emblazoned on the back, and they were each given water bottles and “energy bars, gel packs, carbs, chamois cream, Sports Beans, fruit, Gatorade, water, cue clips, cue sheets, medical support, mechanics, and just about anything else that was suggested to us,” according to a Chai Lifeline report.