Within one month of the Steeple Chase Bike Tour, the Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation announced that it will be matching all donations to the charity bike-a-thon dollar for dollar. Celebrating its 26th year on Saturday, August 19th, the Steeple Chase Bike Tour raises money for three critical Windham County social service agencies that shelter the homeless, offer a path to recovery for people with addiction, and provide basic needs from clothing to heat for under-resourced individuals and families.

“At a time when both state and federal social service funding is being slashed, this is a huge victory for this event and our organizations,” said Ruth Gordon, human resources director for Perception Programs, one of the three event beneficiaries. “Every cyclist needs to know that the money he or she raises by riding in the Steeple Chase will double this year, thanks to the Ossen Foundation’s incredibly generous matching gift. It will have such a profound impact on the lives of the people we serve in Windham County.”

Cumulatively over the last 25 years, The Steeple Chase Bike Tour has raised $1.1 million through the efforts of the hundreds of participants who love the ride. This money goes directly to the Windham No Freeze Project (www.windhamnofreeze.com), Windham Area Interfaith Ministry/WAIM (www.waimct.org) and Perception Programs (www.perceptionprograms.com) to help fund their important work.

“Healthcare and human services are a key focus of our foundation,” explained Eileen Ossen. “All three of these organizations are busy every day providing the most basic needs to an under-serviced population. We are proud to do all we can to support their efforts.”

Starting at 7 a.m. on August 19th, philanthropic cyclists from around Connecticut and neighboring states will meet at Eastern Connecticut State University’s athletic complex in Mansfield, preparing to spend the day riding one of five routes with a goal of raising $60,000 to $75,000 before the matching grant is added. Routes include:

• the Century, a 100-mile ride, winding through 14 towns in the Quiet Corner from the Lebanon Green to the Woodstock Valley, and featuring breathtaking views and challenging climbs;
• the 62.5-mile Metric Century, a shortened version of the 100-mile route that offers challenging climbs and astonishing vistas;
• the 50- and 35-mile tours that provide sweeping views of Tolland, Windham and New London Counties with riders pedaling directly through the historic villages of Windham and Chaplin;
• the 20-mile ride, which is ideal for less ardent riders and for families with children who are up for a challenge;
• the 5-mile walk/ride, a short route for participants who would rather walk and for families with younger children who can’t yet ride long distances.

The Steeple Chase Bike Tour is one of the most beautiful, low-traffic bike rides in the state, winding through the bucolic country roads of eastern Connecticut, the state’s self-proclaimed “Quiet Corner.” Cyclists return every year to enjoy the ride and support the cause. Rather than hurdles or water hazards, the event is named for its “steeple stops,” rest stops placed strategically along the routes either at churches or at alternate locations staffed by congregation members from local faith groups. These rest stops provide food, drink, hospitality, history and quirky pampering from nail painting to face painting.

Pre-registration for the event will continue through August 18th, and costs $25 for individual riders or walkers, and $75 for families or groups of four. Day-of registration is $30 for individuals and $85 for groups. All riders and walkers are asked to raise additional funds beyond the registration fees through sponsorships. Pre-registration is available at bikereg.com or www.perceptionprograms.org, or by calling Ruth Gordon at 860-450-7122 ext. 2019.

For more information, visit www.steeplechasebiketour.org or follow the event on Facebook @SCbiketour, Twitter @SCbiketour, Instagram @steeplechasebiketour, and LinkedIn.