Despite steady rain that cancelled portions of the 22nd annual COBYS Bike & Hike, Sunday, September 9, was a bright day for COBYS Family Services.
More than 200 supporters walked three miles through the streets of Lititz in a steady downpour. The route was revised to avoid a soggy Lititz Springs Park. By the end of the day donors had established a new income record of more than $142,000 for COBYS ministries. The figure is an increase of more than $5,000 from last year and may still grow.
“We knew the weather would impact attendance,” said COBYS Director of Development Don Fitzkee, “but we weren’t sure about income. We were thrilled that people gave so generously. It was a great day!”
The increase in income marked the 20th consecutive year of growth for COBYS’ signature fundraiser. Since its inception, the Bike & Hike has raised more than $1.4 million for COBYS ministries.
In addition to the walk, the event usually includes two bicycle rides and a motorcycle ride, all staged from the pavilion at the Lititz Church of the Brethren. The rides were cancelled due to a flood advisory, and the event was moved inside to the church fellowship hall.
“We were really grateful that the church could accommodate us inside on short notice,” said Fitzkee. “It made for a much more pleasant afternoon.”
A number of would-be riders walked instead, or came to donate and pick up a t-shirt. In addition to 210 walkers, many others stopped in for fellowship, ice cream, or to bid on the Silent Auction that ran throughout the afternoon. Total attendance was estimated at 350, down from 601 people who walked or rode last year.
Taking the weather in stride, planners jokingly changed the event name to “COBYS Soak & Hike” and Fitzkee encouraged participants to “make memories” as they trudged through puddles. He later joked that although participation was down, the event established a new “indoor attendance record.”
Keith & Lisa Reinhart, owners of the Lampeter Café, cheered bedraggled walkers by setting up an impromptu coffee and hot chocolate station. (Someone suggested that serving hot drinks was their excuse to not have to walk in the rain, and Keith did not deny it.)
Contributing to the day’s success was record business support. More than 100 businesses provided cash or in kind donations of auction items, door prizes, or food and supplies. Cash sponsorships from businesses exceeded the last year’s amount by $11,000 and the previous best by $6,000. The auction generated $4,921, nearly $1,000 more than last year. Bringing top price at $440 was a custom Philadelphia Eagles-themed cornhole game made by Craig Snyder and donated by Galen & Nancy Shenk.
Participants pay a registration fee and/or raise money from sponsors. Mari Cunningham established a new individual fundraising record with total pledges of $12,525. Other top fundraisers were Floy Fitzkee, $6,685; Londa Brandt, $5,810; and Lucy de Perrot, $3,900.
Four Church of the Brethren youth groups earned gym and pizza nights by raising at least $1,500. They were: Little Swatara, $10,462; Mohrsville, $5,031; Mountville, $1,972; and West Green Tree, $1,556.
At the end of the day Fitzkee thanked the crowd for their friendship and support during his 17 years as Director of Development, acknowledging that he recently had announced his resignation and would not be handing out door prizes next year. The crowd expressed appreciation for his service with a standing ovation.
COBYS is grateful to additional sponsors who helped make Bike & Hike a success. Click here to view a full list.