Our View: Small community, big contribution | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Small community, big contribution

— Steamboat Springs hosted its first Ride 4 Yellow event last weekend, a star-studded extravaganza that attracted many cyclists, plenty of enthusiasm and more than $300,000 to combat cancer.

That's impressive for an event in its first year, and organizer Dave Nagel did a heck of a job attracting the 200 riders for the 26-mile Divide Ride and more for a shorter ride. The star power of cycling legend Lance Armstrong surely helped the cause, as well. All the riders raised money, and the cyclists' efforts brought in about $250,000 of the $300,000 total. Half that money will stay to fight cancer in Routt County, though Nagel wasn't available Tuesday to provide specifics. Half will go to Armstrong's LiveStrong charity.

But that's not the only impressive fundraising happening in Routt County. With this year's Steamboat Relay For Life, which raised $122,274, and the $39,500 from the Rally for the Cure and Arnie's Army Battles Prostate Cancer, that total figure sneaks up toward half a million dollars.

Nearly half a million dollars. That's a staggering number in this economy, particularly in a community that supports a vast variety of charitable causes. The outpouring of support for these events reflects the number of lives that have been touched by cancer.

Armstrong, a cancer survivor, started his LiveStrong foundation to fight the disease that has so affected him. According to the LiveStrong website, the foundation has raised $325 million, "and 81 percent of those funds have gone directly to support our programs and services for survivors." The rest of it goes to fundraising, 12 percent, and administration, 7 percent.

But the benefits of Sunday's ride go beyond the dollars and cents. Ride 4 Yellow also moved Steamboat closer to its goal of becoming Bike Town USA. That push is largely motivated by tourism, of course, but it's also about encouraging healthy lifestyles. The broad participation in and enthusiasm about Ride 4 Yellow gives that Bike Town USA effort more credibility in the eyes of the public and the larger cycling community.

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The event also welcomed longtime mountain bikers and more casual participants. It wasn't as challenging as next weekend's grueling Leadville Trail 100, in which Armstrong and fellow cycling pro Dave Wiens routinely participate, but could serve as a solid precursor for those racers.

But what's most important about the Ride 4 Yellow and this summer's other cancer-fighting fundraisers is what they say about Steamboat Springs and Northwest Colorado. In a community that's clearly in the throes of the Great Recession, people are worrying about much more than just themselves.

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