NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – Runners, walkers and bikers passed each other coming and going for a few hours on Saturday, May 19 during the 27th annual Valley Friendship Tour, a fundraiser for Alternatives Unlimited Inc. Those who began their walk in the ‘golden mile’ at 11 a.m. congratulated bikers who were just finishing the 25- and 50-mile bike tours that began at 8 a.m.
More than 250 preregistered for the multi-pronged event which included a 50-mile and 25-mile bike tour of historic sites in the Blackstone Valley, and a 5K, 10K and ‘golden mile’ ride, walk, run. Many others registered Saturday morning.
The goal was to raise $125,000; a goal surpassed by about $11,000 by 11 a.m. Alternatives Director Dennis Rice, who blew the air horn to signify the start of each event, said they were well on the way to beating the $141,000 record set a few years ago as the deadline to turn in money raised is the end of next month. Of that amount, $80,000 came from sponsors that included The Shop at Whitinsville and TD Bank.
Some of the walkers were Alternatives clients, including AJ, who is blind but who didn’t let that disability stop him from participating with the help of an aide. “I love the Valley tour,’’ he said, sitting on a stone wall along the driveway of the Whitin Mill on Douglas Road, where Alternatives is headquartered.
The fundraiser was the vision of the late Gerry Gaudette, said his wife Barbara, who was among the ‘golden mile’ walkers. “We were avid cyclists at the time, and he had a few friends who liked to bike,’’ she said. It started as just a bike event, but over time Alternatives added other events so that others could participate.
“Gerry was on the Alternatives board of directors,’’ she said. “He worked really hard to raise money for Alternatives; it was really important to him.’’
Gerry Gaudette died in 2003, and a year after his death a 25-mile bike tour was added in his honor.
The day included breakfast, lunch, raffles and entertainment.
For more information on Alternatves, or to donate, visit http://www.alternativesnet.org/