Molly Hollibaugh was only 11 years old the first time she participated in Alternatives’ Valley Friendship Tour and the 25 mile bicycle ride she took alongside her father was pretty challenging for a child. Through the years, Molly has returned to the Tour, Alternatives’ signature fundraising event, many times and this year was no exception. Of course, as an adult, the 25-mile ride she completed seems a little more manageable but, as the Douglas resident explains, no less meaningful. “Years later the Tour is as magical and powerful as the first time. The course highlights New England’s best country roads and the people and atmosphere make for such a fun day. For sure, one of my top feel good events of the year,” says Molly.
Molly is not alone in her affinity to the Valley Friendship Tour. In fact, for the third consecutive year, the Tour broke all previous fundraising records – bringing in more than $190,000. Alternatives, which provides services to individuals with psychiatric or developmental disabilities depends on revenue from the Tour to help purchase adaptive equipment and furnishings; cover the cost of finding and training volunteers; and support health and wellness initiatives.
Valley Friendship Tour participants can choose between five non-competitive routes – from a one mile walk to a 50-mile bicycle ride. The diversity of options encourages participation by people of all ages and abilities and fits with Alternatives’ commitment to sponsoring inclusive community events.
In addition to increasing the amount raised from last year’s total of $175,000, this year’s Tour, also saw increases in the number of individual participants and teams, as well as the number of corporate sponsorships. “Over the past several years, the Tour has grown in all areas. This has had a snowball effect – as new people and companies join us, the enthusiasm builds which encourages more participation,” explains Executive Director Dennis H. Rice.
The organization recently released the names of the community teams that had raised the most money. Gaudette Insurance’s “Gerry’s Gang” earned top honors, with the Worcester Restaurant Group’s “Sole Riders” coming in second place. “Team Trinity,” made up of members from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Millville and Trinity Episcopal Church in Whitinsville, took third. Kevin Hunt, a captain of the Sole Riders, was the top community fundraiser.
Next year’s Tour has already been set for May 30. The date is particularly appropriate as it will mark the 30th anniversary of the Valley Friendship Tour. “We were thrilled to see more than 400 people on Alternatives’ Community Plaza this year. Thirty years is a real milestone and we are hoping the community will come out in even greater numbers next year to help us celebrate,” says Karen Goldenberg, director of marketing and development for Alternatives.
Molly Hollibaugh will almost certainly be there. In fact, Molly recently joined Alternatives’ Board of Directors and she and her husband Nick are hard at work planning a new fundraiser – a cornhole tournament called the Valley Bag Toss that will be held on October 11. “We hope, like the Tour, it will become a yearly event that introduces new people to the wonderful work Alternatives is doing right here in the local area,” says Molly.