ARCADIA - Patty Walker is organizing the first Ride for Tiny Town, a benefit to help DeSoto County’s homeless.
The Feb. 9 ride starting at Mosaic Arena will cover three distances and proceeds from riders and sponsors will be used to build the Village of Tiny Town that advocates envision off Magnolia in Arcadia.
Walker shared more about what is happening and how to get involved.
Question: What is Ride for Tiny Town? Who benefits?
Patty Walker: “Ride for Tiny Town is a bicycle fundraiser that benefits DeSoto Cares Homeless Services and the creation of a community of tiny homes. It also benefits the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo Association that will be providing the venue and many volunteers.
“The organizers of this event are seeking cyclists who are able to raise $100 minimum to be the stars of the show. We hope you will feel like a hero because we intend to treat you like one when you cross the finishline! There will be a celebration with free lunch, music and interesting entertainment ... and it’s not too late to register at ridefortinytown.com.
“Ride for Tiny Town is a one-day event we’re hoping delivers a fun and unique experience. Three route options with varying levels of mileage and fundraising will begin at the Mosaic Arena. Riders may choose from a 15-mile, and more challenging 30- and 60-mile routes. The ride offers something for hardcore cyclists and those new to riding. You pedal at your own pace! We want to bring together the people of Arcadia/DeSoto County/Southwest Florida to try something new and build on the growing love for cycling as sport, fitness and mobility.
“By riding bikes and connecting with each other on the day of the event, we will be building a community in a literal sense. These homes and the program will be a beacon of hope for many people who are currently homeless or at risk to become homeless.”
Question: What’s your message to those not certain about a homeless settlement?
Walker: “This project is about helping people who are currently living in Arcadia, but they don’t have a home. They may be living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, which should be a concern to all of us. They are our neighbors, people we may know or perhaps a member of our own family.
“We can’t help everyone, but we are certain we can help many people. At any time anyone of us could fall from grace and would need to have the support of others to get back on their feet again! At the Village of Tiny Town we will assist those who do not traditionally meet the requirements for most housing options.
“All residents who agree to live in the Village of Tiny Town agree to participate in our programming. We understand the solution to eliminating homelessness is not as simple as giving someone a roof over their head. By providing the stability of a home and treating individuals in our community with dignity and human kindness, however, we are offering them a foundation and platform in which residents continue to grow and maintain success.”
Question: How do we get involved?
Walker: “Any one can get involved by registering and campaigning to build your $100 minimum and come out and participate in Ride for Tiny Town! And if you’re not a cyclist, come join as a volunteer, which is critical to the success of the ride. We are focused on making sure it’s fun and safe and that people want to come every year.”
Question: For us bicycling novices?
Walker: “The 15-mile ride is the shortest route and we want you to finish it, but do what you can at your own pace and return for a celebration.”
Question: Will it be safe?
Walker: “I have spent months creating and riding each of the three routes, to make it as safe as possible. There will be signs to make sure you are going in the right direction and volunteers at major intersections to help each cyclist on their way. All routes have support vehicles and rest stops.”
Question: Riding also promotes bicycling and health?
Walker: “We want to bring people together to build on the love for cycling as sport, fitness and mobility! There are many health benefits of riding. It boosts your physical fitness, revs your metabolism, keeps your muscles, bones and joints strong, and improves your memory. Riding bikes with friends can also boost your mental health and well-being.”
Question: Advice to others seeking to organize such projects.
Walker: “First, have a passion for the project you want to organize. Second, there are a lot of behind-the-scene tasks that need to be done. Break it down into categories and then recruit your committee team based on those categories. Create a timeline to get these tasks done. Third, ask lots of questions! Seek advice from those that know. And fourth, get the word out and hope the community rises to the occasion to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate around us.
“It’s not too late to be a hero! See you on Feb. 9.”