Thanks to folks like Donna Auchenbach, the 19th Annual Covington Century Bike Ride held Sunday was a tremendous achievement.
The event, which benefits Project Adventure Kids, drew over 800 cyclists this year, thus making it the biggest turnout ever for this particular bike ride to date.
"It was a major success," said Donna Auchenbach. "It was great. We had a lot of volunteers (who) came out for it, and we really appreciated the help. And it was a great learning experience for the riders, as well, because they got to learn a lot about Project Adventure Kids."
Originally, Auchenbach had been expecting approximately 700 riders. Last year, over 600 cyclists completed the bike ride.
As a result of the success the event has generated, the level of involvement has led to it becoming one of the fastest growing bike rides in Georgia.
Auchenbach reasoned that the bike ride was larger this year because of the rapid word-of-mouth attention it received.
"More and more people are hearing about it," said Auchenbach. "It's a very fast ride, (and) it was very well-organized. All of the cyclists were able to meet the kids and they were very impressed."
The Project Adventure Kids assisted with the race by providing water, refreshments and cheering for the riders along the way.
Auchenbach helped to increase awareness and attention regarding the event through the Web site www.active.com and by visiting most of the bike shops in Atlanta, Conyers and Covington.
"She knows how to get the word of mouth out there," said Cindy Simpson, director of Project Adventure Kids, who has been with the organization since it was established in 1981.
The charity ride included the rural counties of Newton, Jasper and Walton. Cyclists traveled through historic Social Circle, Newborn, Mansfield and other tranquil areas within these areas. In addition, cyclists could choose between multiple distance options of 30, 50, 75 and 100 miles.
T-shirts were given to pre-registered riders, and there was a spaghetti dinner at the Project Adventure Kids dining hall after the ride.
According to Simpson, the proceeds from the event will go toward three separate projects that Project Adventure Kids is currently working on.
The first project involves providing school clothes to children without any apparel.
"The state no longer gives us funds to put clothes on the kids - they no longer give clothing vouchers," said Simpson. "So, we have 16 kids enrolled in public school and need to buy them school clothes to start."
Simpson also said that they will abide by state guidelines and spend $300 per child for school clothes.
The second project involves two large classrooms that are in dire need of renovation efforts, including new floors and new walls.
And the third project is the purchase of a brand new educational computer system.
Simpson credits Auchenbach - who has been working at Project Adventure Kids since January - for making this year's bike ride the largest in history.
"I'd also just like to thank all of our staff here at Project Adventure Kids and all the volunteers who helped make the day go so smoothly."
Project Adventure Kids is a non-profit organization located on a 130-acre campus in Covington that works as a residential program for displaced and homeless Georgia youth. Last year, it worked with 942 kids. The program combines adventure, academics and counseling in a fundamental group environment that helps neglected and at risk youth overcome the barriers they encounter in life.
Over 100 students are currently enrolled in a variety of community based and residential programs in Covington.
As for next year, Auchenbach expects an even bigger turnout.
"We just really appreciate the community's support," said Auchenbach. "Everybody loved it and had a great time; we heard so many positives and compliments about it."
For additional information regarding the Covington Century Bike Ride, call Brandy Malcom at (770) 784-9310 ext. 114 or visit the Web site at www.projectadventurekids.org.