Last Thursday night, Sept 28th, our Annual Gala and Awards Dinner got busy breaking records as we joined together to celebrate at Ridgeland Mansion in Fairmount Park. Although we staved off the rain until the conclusion, not all eyes were dry as BCYC Athlete of the Year Daa’mir Speight-Taylor left the stage.
A record for attendance, our most ever at 236 attendees thanks to a robust showing of Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia members and allies AND Bicycle Coalition Youth Cycling youth, coaches, volunteers, and alumni. For the first time ever, we had four BCYC Athletes of the Year in attendance, Krystal Philson (2016), Mya Miller (2018), and Jaheim Williams (2019) joined Daa’mir in celebration. Truly a testament to the building legacy of our BCYC program which teaches leadership skills on and off the bike. The founder of the program, Ryan Oelkers, received the BCYC award commemorating a decade since merging the program with the Bicycle Coalition. And it was the debut appearance of our newest teammate Lana Harshaw, just hired to take the reigns as our BCYC program Director.
Our paddle raise, conducted by our inimitable master of ceremonies Jeff Hammond, ensured more scholarship recipients to come. The crowd set a record number of bids for the live appeal, 72, as we cruised to $31,950 in money raised to give our BCYC graduates tailwinds as they enter college. At least that’s what the back of my napkin says! These funds will be matched by our loyal coach and supporter Jerry Jacobs and his wife Julie, and for this I want to offer my heartfelt thanks.
We raised money for the Coalition’s advocacy programs as well – big time! thanks to the support of sponsors, auction donors, winning bidders, benefactors, and ticket buyers. I want to express my gratitude to everyone who came out to honor Sarah Clark Stuart, Christine Reuther, Elaine Paul Schaefer, Ryan Oelkers, the Wednesday Night Rides, Daa’mir Speight-Taylor, and our Maguire Award honoree Dr. Keith Leaphart. A special thank you to our presenting sponsor Brandywine Realty Trust for yet again stepping up to the plate to ensure a successful evening.
In all, we came together to raise $143,700.
Daa’mir stole the show as he talked about his challenges and how he overcame them thanks to cycling. He then told the crowd, “Have faith in yourself. When you’re going down a hill it can be terrifying, but you know that if you hit the brakes it might not go well. By believing in myself, I know I’m able to do things that I once thought impossible.”
Our Maguire Awardee Dr. Keith Leaphart had to follow that.
Keith revealed he’s hit the brakes on a hill before, and yes, it doesn’t go very well. A common theme unfolded as he revealed his life challenges on his way to becoming the successful physician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist that he is.
After accepting the Maguire Award from his Central High classmate, La-Toya Hackney, Sr. VP and General Counsel at Saint Gobain ( a sponsor of our BCYC teams) Keith surprised us all. He was the winning bidder on our live auction’s Eagles package, and then gave the signed Lane Johnson jersey and signed Nakobe Dean football to Daa’mir. Keith wanted Daa’mir to have lasting evidence of the night he conquered his fear of public speaking. A pretty savvy move on a tough act to follow- award them the game ball! A magnanimous gesture from our honoree, who helped anchor the BCYC program for eight years while managing the Lenfest Foundation.
We are so thankful to Dr. Leaphart.
A special thank you to our cocktail sponsors, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Edrington’s Noble Oak Bourbon. Grateful to Dulcie Canton, a member of the Families for Safe Streets in NYC, but who traveled to Philly in her capacity of marketing for www.clip.bike performing demos of this amazing new portable e-bike conversion motor. Watch your Member’s Only email for a special offer on pre-orders. And if you would like to see BCYC in action, stop by the BCYC booth at the Philly Bike Ride later this month. BCGP will have a booth as well, where you can renew your membership, get involved, and ask questions about our latest efforts in transportation advocacy.
Thank you to everyone who came out to support the Coalition’s work in keeping everyone safe, riding, and connected; and especially to those who paid special tribute to our outgoing Executive Director, Sarah Clark Stuart. It was a great night. We couldn’t do this important work without you. And we had a blast.
Interim Development Director
(Published by my excellent colleague, Mya Miller. Thank you to Lora Reehling for the beautiful photos.)
The BCYC Program is actively seeking new corporate support for this season. If you know of a business or individual inclined to support this innovative program, please drop me a line at email@example.com