They ride for friendship, fun and a cause during Steamboat’s 1st 24 Hour ‘Boat Cruise | SteamboatToday.com

They ride for friendship, fun and a cause during Steamboat’s 1st 24 Hour ‘Boat Cruise

Bicyclists wearing costumes of all kinds will cruise through Steamboat Springs this weekend during the first annual 24-hour Boat Cruise, which kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday at Stehley Park and ends at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Seven teams will be raising money for Integrated Community's Listos Para Kinder — Ready for Kindergarten — program.

"The whole goal for this is to make a bigger difference than just me pulling out my own checkbook," said Alison Givnish, on the Velo Doras team, who felt compelled to do something to reach out to organizations within the community who are being negatively impacted by current policies on a national level. "I felt the need to do something in my own community, and this has definitely been an organic process. It's just friends getting together to do something good for the community and make a fun event."

Inspired by a similar fundraising ride, the Crested Butte Bridges of the Butte 24-Hour Townie Tour, local organizers wanted to keep the ride small for its first year.

This is not an “event,” according to Helen Beall, another rider who’ll be participating in the Boat Cruise on the "Biker Babes" team. She said it's more of an organized ride.

Set at 10.5 miles, the course starts at Stehley Park then loops up to the mountain and back. There must be one rider from each team on the course at all times and costumes are a requirement, Beall said.

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Whichever team raises the most for the cause wins but there will also be “most laps” and “best costume” honors earned. Although there are no prizes, Beall said it's about the pride.

"The idea is to have as much fun as possible and raise money for a cause we all think is really important for this community," said Beall.

Integrated Community's Listo Para Kínder program is a two-week kindergarten prep class, held at Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools, that started last year as a way to help young English language learners prepare for their first day of elementary school.

"We chose them because they had an educational component, it had a community impact and we wanted someone who maybe didn't already have as good of funding sources," Givnish said.

The fundraising goal for the Boat Cruise is $4,500, which is the program’s annual budget. Erin Swanson, education coordinator for Integrated Community, said the program served 10 kids in 2016 and 22 kids this year.

"A lot of these kids didn't go to preschool or just had a few hours each day and would usually start behind their peers when the first day of kindergarten came around," Swanson said. "Kids are coming into kindergarten and not knowing how to use scissors or they may cry everyday for three weeks or more because they didn't go to preschool. This program really helps them learn those social skills as well as learning letters and expanding their English vocabulary."

To help cheer on the teams, Givnish said community members can visit the Integrated Community building, 443 Oak St., and bring riders water or snacks or donate to one of the team's fundraising pages by visiting coloradogives.org/YampaValleyGives/BoatCruise.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@steamboattoday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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