The Beautiful Backroads Century Bike Ride will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a new look, courtesy of COVID-19. Set for Saturday, the in-person and virtual event will continue to generate funds and awareness for Hickory Log Vocational School.
“The BBC team is taking numerous precautions to ensure the cyclists will have limited exposure to COVID-19, including offering a virtual ride in addition to the live ride,” said Jim Edwards, founder of the Beautiful Backroads Century. “… COVID-19 has decreased the number of riders significantly this year, but the BBC committee and the Hickory Log board members are doing everything we can to ensure the ride will take place and enable us to give Hickory Log a substantial donation.
“Even though the number of riders has decreased, several local businesses are supporting the event through generous donations. We appreciate all the local support for this wonderful cause.”
As in past years, Hickory Log will be the ride’s primary beneficiary. Situated at 3680 Highway 411 in White, the personal care home was established in 1970 to meet the needs of Bartow residents who before had to relocate to out-of-county facilities.
Hickory Log provides intellectually and developmentally disabled men numerous offerings, such as meals, shelter, vocational skills, job training and community outings. Some of the common diagnoses of Hickory Log’s residents include learning disabilities, autism, epilepsy and traumatic brain injuries.
“Visiting Hickory Log was and is a life-changing experience,” said Edwards, a Cartersville resident. “The guys are treated like family and Hickory Log is so much more than an institution.
“It is a warm, caring home. Everybody that visits Hickory Log is awed by the friendliness of the guys and the compassion of the staff."
Since the Beautiful Backroads Century’s inception, Hickory Log has received more than $275,000.
“We are so appreciative that Jim Edwards sought out Hickory Log 20 years ago, and we are humbled that the riders and corporations are still supporting the event,” said Kevin Barnes, Hickory Log’s executive director. “In 2019, Hickory Log received $28,000 from the BBC and this year looks to be even more.
“In previous years, our residents have volunteered with the event. This year, however, the guys will … remain at Hickory Log, but we are hoping to having the opportunity to volunteer again next year. We are all deeply appreciative of the time and effort that goes into organizing this event, especially this year.”
Unlike past rides, the Beautiful Backroads Century will depart at 8 a.m. from either Sosebee Cycling Park or Cass High School, not the Anheuser-Busch’s Cartersville brewery. Race day registration will begin at 6:30 a.m. While the entry cost for the in-person option is $60, the fee to partake in the virtual ride is $40.
To compete in the virtual offering, participants will need to complete either course by the end of September and post a photograph on BBC’s Facebook page to enter a photo contest.
“The first year of the BBC we had 168 cyclists,” Edwards said. “Our largest turnout was over 1,500 cyclists.
“I am overjoyed to be part of something that has grown bigger than we imagined. Even though we expect a lower turnout this year, we are committed to ensure Hickory Log can continue to provide fantastic support for the guys. We strive to make the ride better every year, and COVID-19 slowed us down, but look out, 2021 will be astounding.”
To mark its 50th year, Hickory Log recently wrapped up its Jubilee Fundraiser, which aimed to generate $50,000 in 50 days.
“The goal for our Jubilee 50th Anniversary Fundraiser was threefold: raise awareness, raise funds and increase opportunities,” Barnes said. “All of these goals were met and we couldn’t be more appreciative.
“When we were designing this campaign, we knew $50,000 was optimistic. We decided to proceed with that amount because we agreed that it honored our 50 years of lovingly serving men with special needs and we thought that amount was a great way to bring recognition to our longevity.”
Grateful to the public for their unwavering support, Barnes shared the campaign was a continuation of the vision of Hickory Log’s founder.
“When Al Munn established Hickory Log in 1970, one of his primary goals was for Hickory Log to be in partnership with the Bartow County community,” he said. “His vision was for our residents to be involved with folks in the community and the folks in the community to be involved with our residents.
“Al’s vision is beautifully in practice. Our community consistently shows their love for our residents by being here, by donating goods and by financially supporting Hickory Log. Our jubilee fundraiser is a perfect example of our community’s love for Hickory Log on display. As a result of their generosity, Hickory Log received $27,000 through our Jubilee 50th Anniversary Fundraiser.”
“Humbled” by the community’s assistance, Barnes noted the “icing on the cake” was 16 small businesses donated items — valued at more than $5,000 — for the fundraiser’s weekly giveaways. Proceeds from the benefit will go toward expanding Hickory Log’s footprint, by broadening its living facilities and services.
The nonprofit currently serves 19 residents, one of whom has called Hickory Log home for 45 years.
“Hickory Log exists to be a source of hope and security for people living with special needs and their families,” Barnes said. “We see a community of special needs men and women thriving beyond their natural capabilities in all areas of life, and specifically in the areas of education, relationships, vocation and finances.
“We envision a multicampus, multifaceted nonprofit organization that provides all services needed for special needs persons throughout every season of their adult life. Hickory Log foresees a time that we continuously set the standard for nonprofit organizations in the areas of education for the special needs community, compassion toward everyone within our sphere of influence, dependability in all organizational faculties, stewardship of internal and external finances, and advocacy for special needs.”
Further details about Hickory Log can be obtained by calling 770-382-6655 or visiting the nonprofit’s Facebook page or website, www.hickorylog.org. For more information or to sign up for the Beautiful Backroads Century, visit http://bbcbikeride.com.