The Great Ride

For information and signup for the 2013 Great Ride, click here.

“You need to add a motorcycle run to the Corporate Challenge.” At first I couldn’t imagine that Mark Tormehlon, City of Richardson Fleet Technician, was talking to me. A motorcycle run? As part of an Olympic-style competition? Really? It was already July and with the games starting in August, it was too late for any additions to the calendar. That was back in 2009 and when 2010 rolled around - Mark did too...in July. I explained it was simply too late to try and add an “event” to the calendar, but we also visited on WHY he thought we should add a motorcycle run to the Challenge. What I learned in that conversation was remarkable! What Mark learned was not to wait until July.

As preparations for the 2011 games started, Mark approached me again and reminded me of our conversation. The reason we needed to add the run to Challenge was because outside of the raffle program we offer, there wasn’t an “event” strictly for fund-raising for our benefactor. The motorcycle run could be just that...AND we would reach out to a population that might not currently be participating in the Challenge.

The philanthropic component of the Challenge is equally as important as the games themselves. Every participating company is asked to raise a minimum of $1,000 for our benefactor - and this is outside of their registration fees. We provide a raffle program that companies may participate in, but many elect to do other activities such as bake sales, silent auction baskets, pizza eating contests, dunk tanks for the executives and even casual day buttons. Our benefactor for the past 15 years has been Special Olympics Texas and the contributions from the Corporate Challenge have allowed these wonderful athletes the chance to compete in their regional, state and international games, as well as purchased new sporting equipment and uniforms. It can be costly for these athletes with special needs to compete and our contributions have helped to offset some of those expenses.

How a motorcycle run would fit in with all of this was a mystery to me until 2011. Mark put me in contact with other organizers and I attended a motorcycle run - in my car and with a notepad in hand. Needless to say, I stuck out like a sore thumb - but learned a ton. The biker community is one of the most giving group of individuals out there and will rally behind a cause, like Special Olympics Texas, in a second. Bikers ride to ride - and if there is a cause to ride for, even better!

Similar to The Great Walk, which is part of our Opening Ceremony, The Great Ride is open to anyone who wishes to ride. Participating companies have the opportunity to claim the fund-raising dollars collected provided that riders list the company (should they not be an eligible Corporate Challenge participant). In our inaugural year The Great Ride had close to 100 riders! Not bad for a grass root effort and very little time for planning. Being that the event is a part of the Corporate Challenge, the focus in year two was to boost participating company riders. We did just that with nearly 60% of the riders being Corporate Challenge participants!

The goal of the Corporate Challenge is simple: to promote, enable and support teamwork, company pride and corporate wellness - all through healthy competition. I have watched companies come together because of the Challenge. I have watched employees try things they never imagined themselves doing - like completing a 5K Run or swimming 50 meters or even throwing horseshoes. I have watched individuals network and look forward to seeing other companies year after year...and I have watched how including a population that loves the sport of riding a motorcycle can be a part of the Challenge too. With the addition of The Great Ride to the Challenge we had comments from individuals who said: I can’t do any of the sports you have in the Corporate Challenge, but this, riding my bike for the cause, this I can do!

Mark is thrilled that we took this step to help enhance the Corporate Challenge. He returns each year to be the Coach of the City of Richardson’s Dart team...AND now he helps to promote The Great Ride as well. He told me it would be successful...and he was right!

In 2011 we reached our fund-raising goal by contributing over $1,000,000 for Special Olympics Texas in our giving history. The Great Ride was a part of that and it’s a part of the Challenge for good! Ride Safe!