June 27 marked the 25th anniversary of the Nassau Bicycle Challenge, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of the North Shore. Since 1996, the challenge has raised more than $300,000 for children’s charities. This year alone, North Shore Kiwanis raised nearly $17,000 from its riders and sponsors.
Some 200 cyclists took part in this year’s challenge.
“It was wonderful seeing riders having a great experience. These funds will help our club support children in these troubled times,” said North Shore Co-Chair Leslie Kle, a distinguished past Kiwanis Club president.
The bicycle challenge was created by Tom DeStio, whose son was born prematurely and with multiple health issues. He was cared for in the critical care unit of the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Center in Cohen Children’s Medical Center, now in New Hyde Park.
When DeStio joined Kiwanis in 1994, he realized it was the perfect venue to give back. Now, the challenge directly benefits the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Center, Pediatric Lyme Disease Foundation, Kamp Kiwanis and other charities. DeStio and his family have been involved in the organization ever since.
The challenge was modified this year with certain changes to minimize the possible spread of Covid-19 among participants, volunteers and organizers. They included a health questionnaire before participation, masks at registration and staggered starts. Also, only packaged foods and water were served.
“It was important that our club did a community event, one, albeit limited with Covid-19 restrictions, that pulled people together for a common cause,” event Co-chair Roger Hill said. “A real spirit of camaraderie was present.”
Previously named the Nassau to Suffolk Bicycle Challenge, the new route ran through Nassau communities only, as opposed to the previous route, which passed through both counties. Riders could choose between two routes: a 25-mile loop, or a more rigorous, 35-mile loop. Each route hugged the North Shore coast, offering a few good climbs, some fast straight aways and expansive views of the Long Island Sound.
Kiwanis International is a global community of volunteers focused on improving the lives of children through charitable donation and public service. The Kiwanis Club of North Shore is one of 11 clubs that comprise the Long Island North Division of Kiwanis, a part of the New York Kiwanis District, which is made up of more than 300 clubs across the state.