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Creating community with every RPM

Cycle for Good

Cycle for Good builds on past success

When JCC Association rolled out Cycle for Good—a continental fundraiser involving stationary bikes, group riding and a lot of ruach (spirit)—four years ago, Audrey Edwards knew the event would be perfect for the JCCs of Greater Boston.

“When we saw the email, we couldn’t have hit ‘yes’ faster,” says the director of health, fitness and wellness at the JCC. “We love it.”

That first year, the JCC made it into a distinct, stand-alone event on Sunday morning. But that proved too disruptive for the group cycling regulars. So the next year, the JCC simply capitalized on a good thing.

“Sundays are a very vibrant time in our cycle studio,” she notes. Organizers decided that Cycle for Good could take place within what was already going on—donations optional.

“But it’s very unusual for someone to not donate,” says Edwards. With three classes on Sunday and 23 bikes available in each, the J does a good job promoting the idea that the program is about doing good while being good for you.

“I love the sense of tzedakah and giving back and doing something at the same time as other JCCs,” says Edwards. “And our members are really competitive and love to know how we did compared to other JCCs.”

This year, Cycle for Good takes place on the first Sunday of Hanukkah, Dec. 13. Participating JCCs run the program for three or more hours, with the idea that during one hour, JCCs in all time zones will be riding at the same time.

JCCs in the Eastern time zone will run the program from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Those in the Central and Mountain zones can begin at either 8 or 9 a.m. and continue through 11 a.m. or noon. And those in the Pacific time zone can run their program from -11 a.m. In the past, between 20-25 JCCs have taken part in the program, and the hope is that at least that many will be pedaling in unison in December.

“It’s a way of taking something the JCC does already and turning it into not only a local community event, but one that connects them to the broader JCC Movement,” says Steve Becker, JCC Association vice president for health and wellness services. “And it’s a program that any JCC can easily accommodate, since most already run group cycling classes.”

In the past, JCC Association has picked a charity that all the participating JCCs donate toward. This year, will be different, with JCCs picking their own charity.

Boston’s JCC, which raises a few thousand dollars at the event, has chosen to donate the funds it raises to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

JCCs taking part in Cycle for Good can raise funds by renting their bikes out by the hour or by having participants solicit sponsors. Or they can simply donate to the cause they choose.

JCC Association provides the rest, including all promotional and marketing templates, and a media alert template for local press and television. These can be customized by the JCC with its own logo.

For Edwards, Cycle for Good, has been a big win at the JCC. It plays off what JCCs do best, in every sense, she says.

“Our biggest differentiator at the J is community,” she says. “We run 82 free group fitness classes a week and there’s a wonderful sense of community. People notice is somebody is sick, or is out for surgery, or loses a spouse or partner. It really gives me goose bumps, what we do.

“We create community, and Cycle for Good is no different.”

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