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Cyclist ride to raise money for CASA

Hundreds of people gathered at the Subaru test track on Saturday morning to raise money for children in Tippecanoe County.

Posted: Aug 10, 2019 4:22 PM
Updated: Aug 11, 2019 2:32 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI)—Cyclist werent t just cycling for their health. They were cycling for the children.

The CASA Cycling Challenge took place at the Subaru Test Track. It's a fundraiser for the non for profit organization that helps abused and neglected children in Tippecanoe County.

 "CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. And that's exactly what they are," said President for CASA For Kids Fund Board Patti O'Callaghan. "They're volunteers who are appointed by the court to be special advocate for kids in child abuse or neglect cases."

The cycling challenge was created in 2007 by co-founder Rick Laurie. After Laurie completed a push-up challenge to raise money for CASA he began thinking about other ways to involve the community. 

"So, we thought, why not cycling? So we started a relay race back in 2007 and we've been at it ever since," said Laurie.

The event was orignally held on the streets of West Lafayette. Until Tom Easterday, a former Senior Executive and Vice President at Subaru's test track, offered to have the cycling challenge on the SIA track. His wife was a CASA volunteer in Benton County. 

When the fundraiser started they only had 12 cyclist. Now they've welcomed more than 300. Laurie said he never imagined that an idea would turn into something this big.

"We're very happy, very pleased," said Laurie. "We have great staff organizers. Just people that are just dedicated to making this thing happen. We're very happy with the progress that we've made."

This fundraiser doesn't just impact children. Those who choose to volunteer like Vicki Leavitt are affected greatly.

"I started participating in the CASA challenge about 2008 or 09," said Leavitt.

Something caught Leavitt's attention and now she's not only a cyclist fundraising, she's a CASA volunteer.

"They had this huge tub of pinwheels with children's names on it," said Leavitt. "And those children didn't have CASA's."

The cycling challenge has raised nearly $800,000 in 11 years. All of those funds go towards helping abused and neglected children. Leavitt said this program changes so many lives.

"If they didn't have the CASA program and the support of the courts and the staff and the volunteers," said Leavitt. "I would be afraid to know what that looks like."

To learn more about CASA you can visit any of the highlighted links above. Or, click here. 

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