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February conference targets charity ride, endurance event organizers

Published December 13, 2013

ATLANTA, GA (BRAIN) — With charity rides and other cycling-based fundraisers booming, the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Conference is dedicating a breakout program to the field at its upcoming conference in February. 

“It’s incredibly exciting to see that cycling is expanding as a way for people to support important causes,” said David Hessekiel, president of the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council, which organizes the event.

Entering its eighth year, the conference will be Feb. 25-26, 2014, at the W Atlanta Midtown hotel. From the 57 people who attended the first conference in 2007, Hessekiel said he’s expecting “well in excess of 300” this time.

The conference is intended for executives of what Hessekiel calls “peer-to-peer” fundraising programs, which includes such events as the National MS Society’s Bike MS, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, and the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure.

Hessekiel said anyone whose business depends on fundraising needs to be on top of current trends.

“There are no gimmes these days,” he said. “Programs that are well-conceived, strategic and well-executed have an opportunity to grow and bring in substantial amounts of money for the charities involved.”

He added, “There’s plenty of other things that people can do with their time. It’s not a foregone conclusion that you’re going to be successful.”

Several cycling events made the Fundraising Council’s list of the Top 30 highest-grossing events for 2012. Hessekiel, who will unveil the 2013 Top 30 at the conference, said he expects another cycling event — Cycle for Survival — to make the list as well.

A featured speaker will be Tom Lennox, CEO of Pelotonia, a fast-growing charity ride that benefits a cancer research center in Columbus, Ohio. Pelotonia raised $19 million in 2013 and has brought in more than $60 million in its first five years.

Tim Blumenthal, president of PeopleForBikes, is scheduled to talk about opportunities for cycling, while Nicole Preston of the American Diabetes Association will share tips for organizing safe events and dealing with inevitable setbacks caused by weather, injuries and other unforeseen circumstances.

Other speakers include Nick Denby, vice president of development at the Livestrong Foundation, and officials from up-and-coming alternative events including Tough Mudder and the Cupid’s Undie run.

In addition to the breakout session for cycling, the conference will feature breakout sessions for endurance events, national series and local/regional programs.

Attendees can save $100 by registering by Jan. 8. To register or for more information, visit

Topics associated with this article: Advocacy/Non-profits, Events

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