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September 9, 2013 • 09:10:24 a.m.

Bikers raise funds for Mooseheart school

By JAMI KUNZER - jkunzer@shawmedia.com

Mooseheart School (Photo provided)

What began as Bruce Bailey's personal crusade to raise money and awareness for Mooseheart has turned into a challenge for his entire Woodstock Moose Lodge.

Bailey set out a couple of years ago to ride 45 miles from Woodstock to the Mooseheart Child City & School in Batavia. This year, he'll be joined by at least 14 riders, all earning pledges that will go toward a renovation project at the school, which helps children who've been orphaned.

The riders will set out Sept. 14, hoping to reach the Mooseheart Challenge's $15,000 goal. Riders and pledgers still are encouraged to participate.

"It's because of the kids," said Bailey of Woodstock. "That's why we're here, to help out kids who are in need."

Along with the bike ride, which is 47 miles this year due to construction on the bike path in Algonquin, the Challenge included other fundraisers, such as a Taco Night in April, a Bash in July and the sale of apparel celebrating Mooseheart's 100th anniversary.

A 5K Walk will take place Sept. 22 at Emricson Park.

Raising $10,000 last year through his bike ride, Bailey has been challenged to raise another $15,000. If the Woodstock Moose Lodge raise $25,000 total, a renovated classroom will be dedicated to it at Mooseheart.

About $10 million in renovations are under way at the 60-year-old school, said Barb McPherson, grand chancellor of the Women of the Moose and a Woodstock resident, who also will be taking part in the 47-mile ride. 

The school holds about 230 students ranging in age from preschoolers to high school seniors. Six lodges in the country, including Woodstock, have pledged to raise enough money within two years to have a dedicated classroom.

"I think Bruce has done an amazing job not only to raise funds, but he's also done a terrific job of bringing the membership of the lodge closer together to support a project," McPherson said.

"He's brought awareness to the members of what it is we do as members, and he just has such a passion for the children that we provide care for."

After the bike ride, riders will be greeted with drinks, food and a tour of the campus.

Many Moose members have never been to the school, McPherson said.

"They want to see what their dues and our money is going to support," she said.

In taking on the $15,000 effort, Bailey challenged McPherson to ride along with him this year. She said she's been training since Christmas, when her husband bought her a new bike, and is hoping to tackle the 47 miles.

Bailey said he's ridden more than 400 miles this year in preparation. When he first took on the ride a couple of years ago, he wasn't a regular bike-rider. At age 57, he said the challenge has kept him in shape. Others, too.

"A lot of good people like the idea and they jump on board," he said. "Two years ago, I was totally prepared to ride down there by myself. People just came out of the woodwork."

"There are still riders out there trying to get people to pledge," Bailey said.

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