Bikers pedal for United Performing Arts Fund

Beer, bike riding and the arts: They seem incompatible, but the three are linked in the 24th annual Miller Lite Ride for the Arts, a June 6 bike-a-thon in Milwaukee and the surrounding areas.

The ride is meant to raise money for the United Performing Arts Fund. Marquette is sponsoring a team for the event.

Mary Dunnwald, an associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and organizer of the Marquette team, said anyone can register for the Marquette team. This is the third straight year in which Marquette was sponsoring a team, she said. Both students and staff have participated in previous years.

Stacie Dooley, the assistant dean for University Apartments & Off-Campus Student Services, will be participating in her fourth Ride for the Arts this year.

"I like that there are different route lengths — there's something for all fitness levels," she said.

Participants can take routes of five, 15, 25, 50 and 75 miles, and all routes go through various locations of Milwaukee and surrounding communities. Dooley said she has ridden the 15-mile route twice and the 50-mile route once, and said she was planning to take the 25-mile route this year.

Dunnwald said she would ride the 25-mile route as well, and she enjoyed the experience.

"You see little kids up to 95-year-olds doing 25 miles — it's a lot of fun," Dunnwald said.

Dooley agreed.

The ride "attracts all different kinds of people and skill levels," she said. "There are families with children, experienced 'hard-core' bikers and people who like to ride just for fun. One year I saw an older woman in pantyhose, sandals and a skirt riding her 'low-tech' bike. She was having a great time. You don't have to wear spandex biking shorts and have high-tech gear to participate in the ride."

Behind all the fun, however, is a serious purpose. The UPAF funds groups and organizations like the Milwaukee Ballet, the Milwaukee Public Theatre and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, as well as 34 other groups in the Milwaukee area.

Sharon Chaplock, a project administrator in the School of Education participating in her second ride, said she considers the arts important.

"I think the arts are an important source of enrichment for all people," Chaplock said. "Unfortunately the arts are often the first thing to be cut when money is tight."

Chaplock said she serves on the executive board of an arts group not funded by the UPAF that helps underprivileged children, and she has seen the difference the arts have brought to those children.

The arts "opens a world of problem solving through creative expression, and gives them a product that is all their own," Chaplock said. "It's a reflection of their inner beauty."

According to the Ride for the Arts Web site, over 200,000 people have participated since 1981, and the ride has raised more than $4.8 million. Money is raised from the registration fees and pledges participants obtain from friends and relatives.

Registration for the Marquette team in the ride is available from Dunnwald at 288-7230 before April 23. The deadline for team registration is April 28.

Comments are closed