For 17 summers, the annual Bike for Boys & Girls Club has been a favorite fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club and for the greater Madison community. The coronavirus pandemic, unfortunately, has temporarily put a halt to that event, but the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County has reimagined it as the new Move for Boys & Girls Clubs (Move4BGC) campaign.
“I think we had canceled the [annual BGCDC] Shamrock Shuffle a couple of days before the city had shut down – that was a $100,000 fundraiser. We made a commitment to all of the folks who registered that we would organize another event sometime soon,” Boys and Girls Club of Dane County CEO Michael Johnson tells Madison365. “As I started thinking through this, I proposed to our board [of directors] to cancel Bike for BGDC and to rebrand it as Move4BGC built around three components – feeding kids throughout Dane County, feeding first responders and providing virtual programming for kids.”
The goal of Move4BGC is to raise $600,000 to give 10,000 free meals to first responders, including police, fire, EMS, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals and to partner with 20 local restaurants through Chef Dave Heide to provide these meals while boosting the local restaurant economy.
Move4BGC is also looking to provide 20,000 snacks and meals to families in need as financial burdens continue to mount and to provide 1,000 BGCDC youths with a digital club experience to meet the needs of mental/emotional support, physical activity and educational opportunities via video, social media and other digital platforms.
“We thought it would be a good idea for us to do business with local restaurants so of the $600,000 we’re looking to raise, we’re looking to do $100,000 worth of business with local establishments to deliver meals to first responders and kids in our community as a way to support small businesses,” Johnson says.
Peter Grey is the chair for the Move4BGC campaign and Nathan Kollath and Mindy McWilliams are the co-chairs. So far, the movement has raised about $300,000 since it launched on Friday, April 3. If you would like to contribute to the fund, click here.
“The idea came from Jack and Sarah McKenzie who thought it would be good to feed first responders and they raised the first $20,000 for this campaign,” Johnson says.
Since the launch, they have been delivering meals and working with groups like FEED Kitchen. “Last Friday afternoon, we fed about 600 people through a partnership with Local 311 and Gino’s Deli,” Johnson says. “I was really quite surprised when a bunch of people started waiting outside an hour before we even started distributing food. We’re just trying to do our part to make a difference and that’s why we started this campaign.”
Didn’t you give a car away, too?
“Yes! The young lady was Savannah Montgomery and she goes to Xavier University and she has a 3.5 GPA,” Johnson says. “When we read her story and knowing her history with the club, two weeks ago Schmidt Auto reached out and donated an electric vehicle to us and we gave it to her.
“Watching this young lady in tears was just heart-warming and we are so thankful that we were able to help her,” Johnson adds.
As part of Move4BGC, the Boys and Girls Club is working with Lilanos and 20 other restaurants to deliver meals to first responders. Yesterday, 40 meals were delivered to the Interstate Blood and Plasma. They received jambalaya and cornbread made by Chef Dave Heide (pictured below), owner of Liliana’s in Fitchburg and Charlie’s on Main in Oregon, and his team.
Fundraising for Move4BGC will take place from April through August that will culminate with a big celebration event on Aug. 15. Johnson is asking people to make their own videos as they support and grow the campaign.
“We’re also asking people as a way to support Move4BGC if they want to go out for a walk or a jog to take out their cellphone and say, ‘Hey, I’m moving for first responders’ or ‘I’m moving for BGC and to provide virtual programming for kids.’”
Staying in good health is important during this pandemic, Johnson says.
“When you look at the number of people who have passed away from this virus and whom it has impacted, it’s largely people of color and particularly African-Americans and that’s why we’ve been saying, ‘Just move! Get out. Bring your kid out and let’s move through BGC,’” he says.
Move4BGC is a win-win situation — bringing family, friends, coworkers and neighbors together for a fun-filled event and promoting active, healthy lifestyles while raising funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County.
“You look at this pandemic and one of the things that they are saying is that you can still get out and walk and you can still get out and bike. We want people to just move and be healthy and practice social distancing,” Johnson says. “So we thought this would be a creative way for people to support our work in the community and get out and exercise.
“Honestly, it’s something I’ve been doing every single day now that I’ve been working from home,” Johnson adds. “We just want people to do it in an organized and healthy and safe way and we think people can do this through MoveBGC.”