Tour De Kids Revival was a Tour De Force

June 18, 2008

Tour de Kids revival was a tour de force

The Ann Arbor News

Unless you've been involved in pulling off a large event, it's hard to imagine the magnitude of work it takes to coordinate the seemingly endless details and to manage the inevitable complications that arise.

So the folks who had the vision for reviving the Ann Arbor Tour de Kids last weekend - and who mustered the time, energy and resources to make it a reality - deserve a big community shout-out for their efforts.

The annual event had been wildly popular, bringing thousands of people to downtown Ann Arbor for a variety of bike races and other activities. But four years ago the funding dried up - and without sufficient financial support, the event couldn't continue.

This year, local software business SpamStopsHere stepped up to be the event's title sponsor, and raised money for the nonprofit Greenview Hepatitis C Fund, which supports research at the University of Michigan Medical Center. Ted and Debbie Green - who run the business and the nonprofit, respectively - had enjoyed the event in the past, and were instrumental in resurrecting it this year on Father's Day. Many, many others contributed countless hours to the effort.

About 330 children ages 3 through 12 participated, and every one of them - everyone - got a medal. Recognition also went to Navya Arigopudi of Haisley Elementary School, who earlier this year won a communitywide contest with her design for the Tour de Kids logo. Her artwork appeared on T-shirts and other promotional materials.

The attendance wasn't up there with previous years, but that shouldn't be discouraging. This year was a new start, and organizers say they've already had people express interest in sponsoring next year's Tour. That's great news.

The Tour de Kids is only the latest example of people pitching in to launch something new for the community. Last year organizers launched the first Big House Big Heart races, with finish lines in Michigan Stadium, to raise money for several charities, including C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and the University of Michigan ALS research center. And FestiFools, a community art project and downtown street parade of giant puppets, now has two successful years under its wacky, oversized belt.

Events like these form the texture of our community - both new ones, like the ones we've mentioned, and longtime traditions like Top of the Park and the massive Ann Arbor Art Fairs. We owe much to the individuals whose commitment and behind-the-scenes work makes it easy for the rest of us to enjoy the results of their labor.