A group of cyclists who volunteered in the post Hurricane Sandy relief will hold a ride this weekend to help homeowners and others in hard hit
areas get back on their feet.
The ride to take place this Saturday, Dec. 15, will seek donations from riders, with 100 percent of the monies raised going directly to families in the hard hit areas of Rockaway Beach, Staten Island, Brooklyn and parts of New Jersey.
Each family will receive $50 per person per household. Many of these people have lost their homes completely, and have been living with other family members or in shelters. The long haul back to normalcy is beset with hundreds of complications, the biggest being financial hurdles
Starting in Harlem, the ride called Ride4NY and NJ will first circle a 20-block area to accommodate children, and those who do not normally ride long distances.
After one loop, the group will travel north, cross the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey, then travel up Route 9W to State Line, a round trip distance of 30 miles.
Participants are asked to register on BikeReg.com, and can offer anything from $25 and up. The suggested donation minimum is $50. Those who only want to donate can do so on the same site at BikeReg.com.
The organizers each had their own volunteer experience after Hurricane Sandy. Brothers Ray Alba and Rennie Alba who spent their summers on Rockaway Beach working as lifeguards, were heartbroken when they saw the devastation of Breezy Point, and both rushed out there the day after Sandy hit to shovel sand, remove debris, and bring food and water to residents.
They immediately started a Google and Facebook group called Hurricane Sandy Relief Volunteer Group where they organized people to come help in the recovery for the following four weeks. That group quickly rose to more than 850 members.
Jason Gallacher, who owns Affinity Bicycles was so concerned about residents along the Rockaway shore that he spontaneously organized 100 cyclists to travel out and help residents.
When they got there they were in shock at how devastated the area was and immediately began a door-to-door canvassing effort to check on residents’ health, and deliver food and water.
Gallacher went out to the area several times again after with a large group of cyclists. ‘We covered 40 to 50 blocks in one day,” he said, and with help from Rockaway Beach Surf Club, they were able to cover a big part of the Rockaways where there are hundreds of tall buildings that had no electricity, heat, or water, with residents freezing, and in some cases, stranded inside.
Jonscott Turco, another cyclist who is trained as a professional therapist and has a private practice, went out to Staten Island where he worked first with NY Runners, a group of 1200 runners who ran out to Staten Island, then Guyon Rescue to reach out to residents in need. He immediately learned that many families could not deal psychologically with the complete destruction of their lives, and worked with many of them to figure out what their next steps would be.
“Whole communities are gone,” said Turco. “Some people were trying to move back into their homes which were mold-infested and not suitable for living,” he added, and he had to counsel them in dealing with reality.
Turco’s parents who still live in Staten Island lost the first floor of their home, but he said their situation was better than most. Turco then organized friends and family to help in the effort, traveling to the area twice a week from Westchester, and even getting his two teenaged children involved.
“I had an idyllic childhood in Staten Island, where I went through the woods to the beach every day,” said Turco who now lives in Westchester, NY. “It pained me to see the destruction.”
With the exception of Jason who held rides out to the Rockaways, the group agreed that they had a hard time getting cyclists interested in the relief effort, and decided to hold this ride.
“It’s a small token of help for the families,” said Ray Alba. “But every little bit helps.”
After this weekend’s ride, the group hopes to hold a bigger fundraiser when the weather is more suitable to provide continued support to these families. Many may take more than a year to get back to normal.
WHEN: December 15, 7:00 AM registration (you must register online first.)
WHERE: 122nd Street and Morningside Drive
WHAT YOU GET for Hurricane Sandy Benefit Ride 6 to 30 miles 7:00 AM
Ride4NY – $25 (Covers registration fees only)
Ride4NY – $35 Free Socks
Ride4NY – $50 Free Champion System Cap & Ride4NY Socks
Ride4NY – $100 VIP Placment, ree Champion System Cap, Ride4NY Socks and T-shirt
Ride4NY – 250 VIP, Cap, Socks, T-Shirt, and Jersey to be mailed