Come along for 'the Ride'

Don Rodman, local businessman, philanthropist, and member of the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees, has supported social service agencies that support at-risk children in Massachusetts for many years. Never forgetting his Mattapan roots, Don began the Rodman Ride for Kids in 1991 as a way to engage the community in this collaborative effort to raise much needed funds for non-profit organizations across the region, including Catholic Charities. Don's mission: to have every kid in our communities live as we would want our own kids to live.

Thanks to Don's determination and creativity, the Ride has grown to be the third largest single-day athletic fundraiser in the nation, behind the Pan-Mass Challenge and the AIDS Walk. Over its 20 year history, the Ride has raised more than $52 million, and each dollar raised directly supports at-risk kids!

This year the Rodman Ride for Kids, a non-competitive 25, 50 or 100 mile bike ride through southeast Massachusetts, will be held on Saturday, Sept. 24. Now in our seventh year of participation in this event, Catholic Charities has a fundraising goal of $110,000. The Ride will match, by 10 percent, all of the dollars raised and underwrite all costs for the event. That means that 110 percent of your donation goes directly to Catholic Charities' youth serving programs, including our summer camp and our mentoring, tutoring, afterschool and street worker outreach programs.

There are many ways you can help us meet our goal:

You can become a rider as an individual, as Catholic Charities employees Christine and Will each have done. The Ride offers Christine and Will the opportunity to combine their passion for social justice with their love of cycling. An avid cyclist, Christine, the newest member of Catholic Charities' grant writing team, is preparing for the 50 mile Ride by biking the 10 miles to and from work each and every day. Will, also on the Catholic Charities grant writing team, is riding for his second consecutive year for the full 100 miles!

You can become a rider as a part of a team, as Joanie Stafford has done. Joanie, as a member of Team Laboure, rode in her first Ride at 77 years young, having read about the good work the Ride supports in The Pilot. Joanie rides alongside Sister Maryadele Robinson, the Director of the Catholic Charities Laboure Center and the leading fundraiser for Team Laboure.

You can become riders as a family as both the Shaughnessy and Kaneb families have done. Every year, moms, dads, sons and daughters commit to training and then biking the Ride course together, as they work to support causes that they believe in.

If cycling is not for you, there are still ways you can help Catholic Charities reach its goal! You could be a virtual rider someone passionate about helping at-risk children and the mission of Catholic Charities, but unable to ride in the Rodman Ride for Kids. As a virtual rider you can fundraise and participate in every other aspect of supporting the Ride.

Each rider employs his or her own individual fundraising strategy. I encourage you to visit the Catholic Charities website, for a link to the Ride and to learn about how you can contribute to our riders' success.

And if you are in the neighborhood, join Catholic Charities riders for a fun gathering on Aug. 6 in West Bridgewater at the Charlie Horse. We'll be collecting donations and offering raffle prizes including a pair of Red Sox tickets!

Debbie Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.