Lake-To-Lake Charity Bicycle Ride & Poker Run To Benefit Disabled Ski Group

SOUTHBURY — The Leaps of Faith Disabled Skiers will take to the land for an inaugural Lake-to-Lake Charity Bicycle Ride and Poker Run on Sunday, May 26, rain or shine.

“We have been thinking of different ways to raise funds,” said Leaps of Faith President Joel Zeisler “It’s the first time, so we will do our best. This will be a fun event.”

The first 100 registrants will receive a Lake-to-Lake Charity Bicycle Ride and Poker Run T-shirt. Online registration is $30 and is now open. Registration is free for children under 14 years old. Start time is 7 am or 8 am, depending on distance.

All rides will begin and end at the Shepaug Dam Recreational Area, 2120 River Road in Southbury.

Proceeds will benefit the Sandy Hook-based Leaps of Faith Disabled Skiers’ adaptive sports programs for disabled children, adults and wounded veterans.

The various routes are designed for cyclists from beginner to advanced levels. The Lake-to-Lake Charity Bicycle Ride and Poker Run includes 100K, 75K and 50K routes through New Haven and Litchfield Counties. A 25K is designed as a family fun ride, and a 16K route option for disabled cyclists.

The 100K, 75K, and 50K routes include five “Poker Run” check points along the way with a prize for the best poker hand at the conclusion of the ride. Riders will draw a playing card at each checkpoint, and show their final hand to Leaps of Faith staff at the end of the ride. 

“We hope this event will attract cyclists of all abilities,” Mr Zeisler said. Cyclists can take one of several scenic routes, including a course intended for disabled cyclists, beginning and ending at the Shepaug Dam Eagle Observatory and Recreation Area on River Road in Southbury.

Paul Gallichotte, ride chairman and a Leaps of Faith volunteer from Southbury, said he hopes to break even with costs this year and have the event “take off  in coming years.” Rides such as this “take time to get established,” but can be very successful fundraising events, he said.

Finances are down this year, especially with much of the community putting its support into funds stemming from the 12/14 tragedy.

“We have discussed other ways to raise funds,” he said. Mr Gallichotte, Leaps of Faith part-time staff member Monica Roberto, and other avid bicyclist, had considered a bike/run more than a year ago. After 12/14 happened, Mr Gallichotte said, “We got this together. We oriented the rides around lakes to keep that theme going.” He hopes the ride can become an annual event.

A 10K hand-cycling route for riders with disabilities travels along the lake into Southbury and back. The 25K family fun ride does a loop through Southbury, South Britain, and Sandy Hook. The 50K ride travels to Woodlake in Woodbury. The 75K travels to Long Meadow Pond in Bethlehem. The 100K ride goes to Lake Waramaug State Park in Kent. See LeapsOfFaithWaterskiers.com for the rides’ directions.

All Leaps of Faith events are free.

“We never charge anyone for  anything,” Mr Zeisler said.

His water skiing clinics include lunch and refreshments.

Raised funds contribute to food and gas, equipment, and an “extensive insurance policy,” repairs, travel, and more. His programming “encompasses quite a bit,” Mr Zeisler said. Except for one part-time staff member, the organization is all volunteer.

“Up in the air because of funding” in coming months are programs including the Wounded Warrior  scheduled for June 21-22. These outings can be expensive. “We put up at least 45 veterans and their families in a hotel,” Mr Zeisler explained.

Several off-site events are planned, two in New Hampshire, one in Long Island, and four events in Queens, N.Y. These include water skiing programs for veterans and the disabled.

 Leaps of Faith clinic dates held on Lake Zoar in Sandy Hook are scheduled for Saturdays, June 15, July 13, July 27, August 10, August 24, and September 14.

Leaps of Faith, which specializes in adaptive water and snow ski programs for disabled children, adults and wounded war veterans, is now in its 20th year. Programs are free of charge to individuals with disabilities and veterans and include adaptive water skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, and snow skiing. Any and all disabilities welcome.

Visit LeapsOfFaithWaterSkiers.com or send email to Mr Zeisler at lofskiers@gmail.com for additional information.

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