Over the last few years of Kelly Brush Rides, I’m always so pleasantly surprised at the motivation behind virtual participants. For more than a decade, the whole fun of the day was limited to coming together in Middlebury, right? I wrote a whole blog last year about what motivates people to be part of the Kelly Brush Ride, but I wanted to give some extra attention in this blog to our virtual riders who bring enthusiasm and fundraising even when they can’t come to Middlebury and share in the energy and comradery that radiates from that day. Do they feel it all the way across the country where they are riding?

The Kelly Brush Ride was started 18 years ago after I had my accident that led to my spinal cord injury (SCI). Within a couple of years we had our first (informal) satellite group ride. A friend of mine who was on the Middlebury Ski Team and helped to plan and ride in the very first Kelly Brush Ride moved to Colorado after graduating from Middlebury. She wanted to still be a part of the ride so she and 5-10 friends and family would ride 100 each year to support the KBF. It was so fun for me to know she was doing this as well as knowing that she felt the drive to do it and feel connected to me, the KBF, and the Kelly Brush Ride energy.

Similarly, a few years later we had a friend who would ride every year in Middlebury but then found herself in San Francisco and unable to come back for the ride each year. She started a Bay Area ride that got together not only her friends and family but lots of other KBF supporters in the Bay Area to ride as well. One year they did the ride a couple of weeks after the Middlebury ride, so I went out to join them. I loved seeing and feeling the energy of the Kelly Brush Ride even though we were two weeks and thousands of miles removed from the Middlebury event.

And then COVID. We all remember the shifts we had to make when the world shut down completely. The Kelly Brush Ride went completely virtual in 2020 and even I had to participate virtually! (though I did meet (at a distance) a few die-hards in a parking lot outside of Middlebury to be with them as they went out on a ride). That day I remember feeling our community all together even though we were all across the country (and the world!).

The virtual ride option has been a great byproduct of COVID, lots of people now see this as an option. Last year we had many virtual teams that fundraised leading up to the Ride and then got together (this meant different things to different groups) to do their activity – some biked, others did any number of other activities. All carrying with them the power, comradery, and energy of the Kelly Brush Ride.

And once again, this year for the Kelly Brush Ride we have a few different options. We have the Vermont Kelly Brush Ride in Middlebury on September 9th, the virtual ride that can be done anywhere any time, and we are also hosting an official Bay Area Ride on August 19th. I’m really excited to expand on our great presence in the Bay Area with this ride.

So, as you think about your fall and your engagement with the KBF, I hope you’ll think about the energy that comes from the Kelly Brush Ride and find a way to be involved, wherever you are in September. I promise you will feel the energy of this event and the amazing impact it makes on the lives of so many.