“This ride is not about the ride,” said Kevin’s Krewe team captain, Janice Greenberg. “Like Special Olympics, it’s about having friends, being in the community, working hard to do something, having a good time, picking each other up when they fall down, it’s very similar.”
For more than a decade Janice has been riding to support Special Olympics Massachusetts; and what started off as a solo adventure has now become a team of more than 20 riders. Back in 2012, Janice rode in the Rodman Ride for Kids, a ride organized by the Rodman Foundation where nonprofits like Special Olympics MA could use its platform to raise funds. For a few years, Janice and her husband Elliot, previous Special Olympics MA Board of Directors member, rode in the Rodman Ride for Kids—and in 2013, their son Kevin (a Special Olympics athlete) decided he wanted to ride too.
“We had a posse of five people around Kevin, and so we called it Kevin’s Krewe,” said Janice.
It wasn’t until seemingly everywhere else in the state (and the world) was shutting down when Kevin’s Krewe grew massively. In 2020 Kevin’s Krewe was able to find a group of riders who were willing to ride together outdoors, in a socially distanced setting. Janice created a 100-mile route and recruited friends and Special Olympics families to provide rest stops and snacks along the way. Overall, Kevin’s Krewe had 13 riders who rode 100 miles and raised $18,000 for Special Olympics MA.
“After that, everybody was like, ‘we have to do this every year,’” said Janice. “This year our goal was to get more riders. We did not raise the riding minimum because we wanted to get more riders, and we did!”
Now, Kevin’s Krewe rides in the Connecticut Valley Century Ride (COVAC), a ride ran by Rotary Club of Amherst to raise funds for the Good Works Fund. This way, Kevin’s Krewe just pays the $40 entry fee per rider and enjoys their route, rest-stops, and (most uniquely) at the end of the ride, a baked potato and, for riders over the age of 21, a beer!
“So because of us this year, COVAC will get 21 riders from our team which is good for them, we don’t have to do all the work of planning, and it’s a low resourced fundraiser for SOMA,” said Janice.
In addition to the $40 entry fee, Kevin’s Krewe riders raise $300 in support of Special Olympics Massachusetts and to receive the exclusive Xtra Mile bike jersey. And while COVAC features a beautiful, flat route of the Connecticut River Valley, where riders get to take in the scenic views of the Connecticut River, the ride itself isn’t why Janice participates each year.
“What brings me to tears is the checks and the donations and the notes that roll in. That’s probably my favorite thing, just seeing the outpouring of support and seeing how generous and kind people are,” said Janice. “That probably hits me harder than the bike itself. I’m astounded by how generous people are and how much they care.”
Since 2012, Kevin’s Krewe has raised about $75,000 for Special Olympics Massachusetts. But what does this mean? This means that this small group of individuals has provided thousands of dollars to support Special Olympics athletes in competing in the sports that they love.
“We have a powerlifting team that’s growing like crazy and the ski team we started in Vermont is going strong. I want to help people see that their money is doing something,” said Janice. “I think that people who are cyclists, we love to ride our bikes, and to have a common goal to ride for and to have a special event to train for and come together for is really a lot of fun.”
Anyone can ride the Connecticut Valley Century Ride in support of Special Olympics MA by registering as an Xtra Mile rider and joining Kevin’s Krewe or starting your own team. Next year Janice hopes to grow Kevin’s Krewe to 30 or 40 riders!
“I’m so excited that we’ve been able to bring new people into the fold this year and I’m grateful that Special Olympics is interested in making this a hallmark Xtra Mile event,” said Janice. “I do believe we can grow it and bring in a lot more people on board to support Special Olympics.”
The athletes of Special Olympics dedicate themselves to athletic excellence. The Xtra Mile community uses that same dedication to share inclusion with the endurance sports world through running and cycling events. To learn more about the Xtra Mile, click here.