Nov 18, 2011 6:00 PM
TUCSON - El Tour de Tucson has been rolling along since 1983. That year, 198 cyclists participated in the event. This year, nearly 9,000 are signed up to ride.
The event brings in big money to the community and big money to many charities.
Darrell Stewart is a member of the Rotary Club of Tucson. He's signed up for the 85-mile ride. Stewart admits he didn't train for this year's El Tour, but that's okay because he's not concerned about his time.
"They time me with a calendar," said Stewart jokingly.
Stewart is more concerned about eradicating polio around globe. He and other Rotary Club members recruited 85 people to raise $100,0000 to fight polio.
"When the goal was presented to us of $100,000, I had my doubts. But now we're at $82,000 dollars and it's still within reach," Stewart said.
That's just one of the charities benefiting from El Tour this year.
"Now here we have 21 different charities," said Richard DeBernadis, Founder and Director of El Tour de Tucson. DeBernardis tells News4 Tucson that El Tour brings in big money for those charities. "We're going to be getting anywhere between $1.8 and $2 million dollars, maybe even more."
Tu Nidito Children and Family Services is this year's leading beneficiary, but riders are cycling for a wide range of charities. That's just one of the reasons this event is so special.
"We're kind of proud, we just love what we do," said DeBernardis.
DeBernadis is encouraging other charities to get involved. "Someday I'd love to see 100 different charities benefiting from this ride," he said.
You can learn more about the charities in this year's race on the El Tour de Tucson web page.