Pedaling4Paws Presents Donation To SPCA
By Francine Fulton
To raise money and awareness for shelters that provide loving and temporary refuge for pets awaiting their forever homes, a group of bicyclists annually takes part in Pedaling4Paws, a five-day, 500-mile bike ride that departs from West Chester and arrives at the Canadian border in Ogdensburg, N.Y. Individuals taking part stop at animal shelters along the way.
The ride began in 2009 when Viktor Ohnjec, an avid bicyclist, planned a long-distance ride from West Chester to his parents’ home in Montreal, Quebec. A short time later, he recruited a fellow cyclist, Mike Van Ryn, to ride along with him. Mike’s brother, a local business owner, heard about the ride and offered to pledge a dollar to the local SPCA for every mile Mike rode.
Through the years, the ride has become an official fundraiser with organizers of the group adopting the name and establishing a website, which allows people to support their favorite animal shelter. No one can donate directly to the riders; rather, donors are asked to choose the beneficiary from a list of shelters on the website and donate to the shelter directly. In addition to the Chester County SPCA, the Animal Rescue League of Berks County, Birdsboro, was also a beneficiary.
That first year, the riders raised $2,000. This year, when participants completed the ride, the total amount raised was nearly $40,000 for the 18 participating shelters. A group of 16 riders completed the full 500-mile trip, although others joined the group and then dropped off along the way.
Recently, participants in the trip presented a check for $5,985, which represented donations that Ohnjec collected along the trip as well as the proceeds from a drawing for a limited edition print titled “Moonlight Serenade” by artist Juan Vela, to the Chester County SPCA. The drawing took place at a gallery in West Chester, and the artist himself pulled the winning ticket.
While accepting the check, Rita Schorn, special events manager for the Chester County SPCA, stated, “On behalf of the Chester County SPCA, we are honored that the Pedaling4Paws team chose us to once again be the (beneficiary) of their annual ride. We appreciate all of the time and effort that it takes for the cyclists to prepare for this event each year. (Their) efforts helped (make) the SPCA’s fundraising efforts a success.”
“(People can still) donate money, donate goods, volunteer or adopt an animal, which is the best thing (people can do). Most importantly, we want to give the animals a home,” Ohnjec said following the presentation.
He noted that this year’s ride will be last to travel to Canada. “Next year, we are going to do a loop around Pennsylvania and New York State. We will also do one in Florida and another in Colorado,” he said. Specific dates will be determined.
For more information about the effort and the animal shelters that the ride supports, interested readers may visit http://www.pedaling4paws.org or visit the group’s Facebook page.
The mission of the Chester County SPCA is to promote the welfare and humane treatment of animals in Chester and Delaware counties and to be an advocate on their behalf. Each year, the SPCA cares for over 5,500 stray, owner-surrendered, abused and neglected animals. More information about the Chester County SPCA and photos of animals currently up for adoption are available at http://www.ccspca.org.