While the annual Dean’s Ride fundraising event has always been both popular and successful, the Plant City Family YMCA’s ninth annual event will be a hard act to follow.
Held this past Saturday, Dean’s Ride 9 brought a new venue and new routes into the mix with unexpectedly good results: all-time highs in both participation and money raised. Bruce Curtis, chair of the event’s board, said there were approximately 240 riders this year and an estimated $15,000 raised. That’s the biggest turnout the Y has gotten since the first year or two of the event — also the first time there have been 200 or more riders — and the expected $15,000 raised blew past last year’s record $10,000 net.
“If you look back on the prior four years, we average about 150 riders,” Curtis said. “You go from that to 240, that’s a significant increase. I think a lot of that was the appeal of having Keel Farms host the event. I think that drew a lot of people to ride with us this year. The hospitality of Clay Keel and his team was great.”
Keel Farms took over event hosting duties this year, after many years spent starting the ride at the Trinkle Center at Hillsborough Community College. The new venue offered more space, easier access for parking and post-ride festivities on-site.
This year’s routes took riders around Plant City’s north side and as far west as Lake Thonotosassa. They were able to stop for a break and a snack at East Thonotosassa Baptist Church, which Curtis said was “a big hit” with the riders. The Florida chapter of the U.S. Spyder Ryders Can-Am and motorcycle club provided the riders’ escort this year.
Curtis said the feedback has been “very positive,” so there’s a good chance the 10th annual Dean’s Ride will borrow much from this event.
“It’s the best we’ve ever had,” Curtis said.
All of the money raised will benefit the Plant City Y’s LiveSTRONG program, which pays for fitness programs and YMCA memberships for people who have battled cancer themselves or who have been directly affected by someone’s battle with cancer.