A TRADITION FOR BICYCLING ENTHUSIASTS from across North America for the past nine years, the CHAFE 150 just keeps getting better. What started as a 150-mile benefit ride, this increasingly popular event, which draws riders from all over the country, has rapidly grown as organizers do what they can to accommodate various levels of endurance. Shortly after its inception, the CHAFE 150 added an 80-mile half CHAFE, and a few years ago the 30-mile Fun Ride was added in the hope of bringing more participants to the event.
“Over the years, we have had riders from most states in the U.S. and Canada,” said Mel Dick, one of the organizers of the event. “And approximately 50 to 60 percent of our riders are repeat riders.”
In the beginning, Panhandle Alliance for Education organized and sponsored the event. Approximately five years ago, the Sandpoint Rotary Club stepped in to take it over and has done much to help it grow and continue to succeed, much to the delight of Lake Pend Oreille School District, the beneficiary of the proceeds.
“Since the Sandpoint Rotary took over supporting the ride four years ago, we have donated over $160,000 to LPOSD,” said Dick.
This year’s ride will be no different. The funds raised support and benefit the students of Lake Pend Oreille School District who are on the autism spectrum.
“During the last several years, the funds have helped support social and emotional growth programs for students on the autism spectrum and will continue to do so,” explained Dick. “One of the benefits of the programs that CHAFE 150 has helped fund is that the programs have served as a foundation for the school district’s social and emotional growth programs for all students. These programs are particularly important in helping all students deal with the challenges of everyday life ranging from cyberbullying to unrelated school issues.”
Joy Jansen, PhD, is the director of special education in the Lake Pend Oreille School District and has seen firsthand the profound impact the funds from CHAFE 150 have made on students.
She shared one story where she recently observed a speech and language therapy session that involved a student with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
“During the session, the student was working with the element of empathy. My heart began to sing as his answers related to all the work he had been doing around perspective taking—a fundamental element of the social thinking skills—and relationship with his peers. In addition, when asked what is a strategy he has that helps when he becomes frustrated or overwhelmed, he shared, ‘Stop, name your feeling and calm down,’ which is a second-step strategy. He was even animated as he did the hand to represent stop. The entire time he had a huge smile on his face,” said Jansen.
At the end of the session, Jansen asked the student if he liked the second-step program. With passion, he responded, “I love it! It makes me a better person.”
Jansen said that the social and emotional learning and social competency skills that LPOSD is helping students build are predictors of a better future and have been documented in recent longitude studies.
“For students with ASD, learning emotional and social competency skills are even more essential and significant as these are areas of deficit,” said Jansen. “In addition, these curriculums are sharing with students how to be more accepting of others’ differences, understanding others’ perspectives and feelings without specifically isolating or pointing out students with ASD.
“She adds that although the social and emotional learning and social competency programs and curriculum do not provide a message of “ASD specific,” the positive intervention and impact for these students is occurring, and the incredible bonus is that all of LPOSD students are benefiting.
So just how can you get involved in the CHAFE 150 and make an impact on the children in our community? The ride will take place on June 17 and is a “gran fondo” featuring the three distances—150, 80 and 30- mile rides. “Each ride is timed to end at approximately the same time at City Beach Park and will be followed by a community-wide after party,” said Dick.
Praised as one of the most beautiful rides in the country, the CHAFE 150 begins at City Beach Park in Sandpoint. With mountains, lakes and river valleys along its path, the 150-mile ride has no mountain passes or long sustained climbs.
The 80-mile ride begins in Troy, Montana. The riders and their bikes are bussed to the starting point from Sandpoint’s City Beach.
“The family fun ride (30 miles) begins at City Beach in Sandpoint and travels to the Pack River Store via roads through the Selle Valley,” said Dick. “This route is great for families and those wishing to enjoy a beautiful ride and shorter route.”
The event has grown in numbers throughout the years, and thus far has 86 sponsors. The platinum-level sponsor is Bonner General Health, and there are 15 gold-level sponsors including Living Local 360, KPND, North Idaho Flood and Fire, Trinity at City Beach, Timberline Helicopters, Kochava, Summit Insurance, LoneTree Creative, Parker Subaru, D.A. Davison-Hadley Sentinel Financial Management, Greasy Fingers, Northland Cable, Bonner County Daily Bee, Realm Partners and Williams and Parsons, P.C.
With no specific fundraising goal, Dick shared that the group is on track to have one of their best rides ever in terms of fundraising.
“The amount of money raised will depend upon the number of sponsors, number of riders and the funds that individual riders raise,” said Dick. “Riders are required to raise a minimum of $50 for the cause in addition to the ride registration fee.”
In 2016, there were approximately 340 registered riders. As of mid-April, the committee has approximately 130 registered, a number slightly ahead of the same time last year.
The feedback from those who have taken part in the CHAFE 150 has been extremely positive. Comments reflecting the incredible scenery, the support offered— including the rest stops—and the cause behind the event have all enticed riders to return year after year.
Now in its 10th year, the CHAFE 150 has become one of the great annual events for the community of Sandpoint. With more than 100 volunteers and more than 80 sponsors, the ride benefits not only the Lake Pend Oreille School District, but also the local economy.
“It features all that is great about our community—beautiful scenery, friendly people and our outdoor lifestyle,” said Dick.
For more details and to find out how you can participate, volunteer or sponsor, please go to CHAFE150.org.