PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The COVID-19 pandemic has cancelled many fundraisers this year, but ‘Bike for the Beach for Autism’ still went on Saturday with some adjustments.
John Crisley has a son with autism. The pandemic made him realize there’s no better time than the present to ride. “I told him I was coming down here to do this autism support ride. He got a little teary eyed last night because he kind of knows what it means,” he said.
Bike Newport has supported the national ride here in Rhode Island since 2011. Instead of a 100 mile ride from Boston to Newport like in years past, it was replaced with an independent ride from Woonsocket and Portsmouth.
“Sixty-two miles from Woonsocket to Newport. We make a joke – what other state can you ride the entire length of the state before lunch?” Bike Newport Exec. Dir. Bari Freeman said.
Locally, the ride helps Bike Newport raise money for their programs helping children with autism learn how to ride bikes and repair them.
“Advocacy is really important. Getting out there and supporting. Contributing and funding. It’s a year that’s changed everything. And that’s required sometimes more spending in order to adapt services at a time when funding’s been cut out from underneath them,” Freeman said.
Cyclists were encouraged to ride at home and participate virtually. Still, a small group of other cyclists banded together, making the actual ride from Woonsocket to Newport — picking up people along the way. It was held in collaboration with a shorter ride for people of differing abilities from Portsmouth — raising awareness of their cause on the route.
The ride ended at Fort Adams in Newport and was followed by a demonstration of how different bikes work for people of different abilities.
You can learn more about Bike Newport and the annual fundraiser ‘Bike to the Beach for Autism’ on their website.