Ride, baby, ride

Last year, I wrote the following lead paragraph for my August column:

“One of the more dubious honors I have gained as president of Catholic Charities is to humiliate myself annually by puffing and panting my way through 25 miles of a bicycle ride designed by philanthropist Don Rodman to benefit needy kids at the expense of interminable lactic acid burn. I speak, of course, of the Rodman Ride for Kids.”

It is Rodman Ride time again, and despite last year’s humorous lament about just how much 25 miles on a bicycle can shake one’s confidence in one’s own athletic prowess, I write this August with a single purpose: to convince you to ride, baby, ride.

The Rodman Ride, which will happen Saturday, Sept. 26, is in its 19th year. Started by local businessman and philanthropist Don Rodman -- a member of the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees, no less -- it enlists people to push, puff and pant their way through 25, 50, or 100 miles of streets in Foxboro and the surrounding area for a good cause. Actually, more than 25 good causes benefit, and two Catholic organizations, Charities and Life Resources, are lucky enough to be on the list. Riders raise a minimum of $1,000 a piece to ride for the agency of their choice, and then the Rodman Ride throws in another 15 percent on top. Last year, the Rodman Ride was worth more than $90,000 to Catholic Charities. I can assure you, our clients need it even more this year than last.

So why ride this year, even when it means a minimum of 25 miles of physical exertion on a bicycle that you may not have touched since Johnny Damon wore red and had a beard? I’ve taken the liberty to put together a list.

10) You’ll get a chance to see the parts of Foxboro that aren’t directly on the way to the stadium.

9) You can whip your teenagers into shape (literally and figuratively) by having them ride with you.

8) Free snacks -- before and after.

7) Peanut butter and banana sandwiches at the half-way point.

6) Bragging rights for a year.

5) It gets you out of weeding the garden or mowing the lawn for one weekend.

4) You’ll be in the good company of hundreds of other riders.

3) What more possibly productive thing could you do on a Saturday than get exercise while supporting a social justice cause?

2) We really need you.

1) I mean it. We really need you.

Catholic Charities has to meet a fundraising goal of $100,000 for the Rodman Ride this year. We can do it, and we know we can, because we know we can raise 100 riders. That’s all we need to do. It is within the power of everyone who reads this article to help us meet that goal, either by being one of those 100, or by donating to someone who is riding. (Hint: if each of our riders raised $2,000, we’d only need 50 people to ride.)

Those of you who read my column regularly know I’m pretty good about not using it for raising money. But we love the Ride, and people who ride in it do too. I hope Catholic families will make this a family activity, something you do as part of your family’s social justice awareness and commitment.

The first year I trained for the Rodman Ride, I would put my son, Jude, in the seat on the back of my bicycle. We’d ride together for four or five miles total. Much to my embarrassment and chagrin, when Jude (then two years old) wanted to let me know he was done serving as passenger and extra weight, he would take his chilly little hand, reach into my clothes, and pull on my undergarments. He would then proceed to hold them in public view until I got him home.

Jude got the spirit. Ride, baby, ride.

To ride or support a rider, go to http://www.ccab.org/rodmanride/index.html, or you can call Samantha Verga here at Charities, at 617-451-7958.

Tiziana C. Dearing is president of Catholic Charities Boston.