Woonsocket Call

Food pantry goes the extra mile

Volunteers planning summer bicycle run to raise funds

- By ERICA MOSER emoser@woonsocket­call.com

CUMBERLAND – Volunteers at the Northern Rhode Island Food Pantry are gearing up for their third annual “Miles for Meals” bicycling fundraiser, an event planned in coordinati­on with the Cumberland cycling studio Spin-Works.

For the event on Sunday, June 4, they’re hoping for better weather than they had last year.

Spin-Works owner Peter Vasconcell­os had been aiming for 100 participan­ts, but it was pouring rain on June 5, 2016. Still, 75 riders turned out, up from 66 the year before. The bike ride raised $10,000 last year, and organizers are aiming for $13,500 this year.

The bike ride on June 4 starts and ends at Diamond Hill Park. As in previous years, there are three rides: 32, 15 and 7.5 miles. They start, respective­ly, at 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., and the long ride has a rest stop at the 16-mile marker.

“It gives everyone a chance to be involved at different levels,” said Diane D’Ambra, who sits on the board of directors for the food pantry.

The cost for registrati­on is $50 per person but $25 for students, $100 for families and $200 for teams. A single $50 ticket would allow the Northern Rhode Island Food Pantry to purchase 50 pounds of food; it is a sister agency

of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

Those interested in participat­ing can register at nrifoodpan­try.org or call 401741-1890, the number for Spin-Works. Registrati­on is also available on June 4, an hour before the start time.

Those who register by May 21 can get a Miles for Meals cycling jersey included with the registrati­on price, while jerseys will be avail- able at an additional cost the morning of the ride.

This is one of two major fundraiser­s the Northern Rhode Island Food Pantry has each year, along with a choral concert in the fall.

A planning committee started meeting once a month in January and then twice a month in April. The community room where they usually meet was booked when they planned their last meeting, so they just met inside SpinWorks.

Beth Sheridan commented that she likes that 100 percent of what is raised for this fundraiser goes to the Food Pantry, and that she prefers this over a fancy dinner fundraiser where tickets might be $100 but $50 go toward paying for the meal and the room.

Sponsors include Stop and Shop, Ice Cream Machine, The Bathworks Company and many more. There will be food served after the ride.

Food Pantry volunteer Luke Brissette designed the routes.

“My goal was to keep it on safe, not heavily-traveled country roads as much as possible,” he said. Vasconcell­os, who collects food at his cycling studio year-round, noted that the routes are “really scenic.”

Before the event, Brissette and Vasconcell­os will spend three or four hours painting arrows on the roads.

The name “Miles for Meals” is a play on words, considerin­g participat­ing cyclists will bike 7.5, 15 or 32 miles, and Miles is the name of Vasconcell­os’ dog.

Miles, a greyhound, is a real-life mascot if ever there was one.

“He comes to every class and that’s his spot up front,” Vasconcell­os said, gesturing to the front of the room, “and people are told if they have any complaints, talk to Miles after class. He’s the president; I just work for him.”

In the Miles for Meals eye-catching logo, Miles is perched on a baby-blue bike – and wearing a helmet, of course.

Vasconcell­os got Miles, 9, five years ago as a rescue from the South. He first was a race dog who went by Fence Jumper, and his name in the South was Bodi. The spinners at Vasconcell­os’ studio had a naming contest and “Miles” won out.

 ?? Photo by Erica Moser ?? Pictured from left to right are Miles for Meals organizers Peter Vasconcell­os, Diane Erskine Kisseberth, Luke Brissette, Beth Sheridan, Diane D'Ambra, Heather Borges and Kellee Paz. The group is signing up riders for a group bicycle run that will help...
Photo by Erica Moser Pictured from left to right are Miles for Meals organizers Peter Vasconcell­os, Diane Erskine Kisseberth, Luke Brissette, Beth Sheridan, Diane D'Ambra, Heather Borges and Kellee Paz. The group is signing up riders for a group bicycle run that will help...

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