30th Annual Steeple Chase Fundraiser

Roars Back to Eastern Connecticut with New Route Options

30th  Annual Steeple Chase Fundraiser

The 30th anniversary Steeple Chase Bike Tour fundraising event will take place on Saturday, August 21. The event will start and end St. Mary-St. Joseph School in Willimantic (35 Valley Street) and wind through the country roads of Windham and surrounding towns.

Registration is now open at https://steeplechasebiketour.org/register/ and www.bikereg.com/steeple-chase-bike-tour.

This year’s event will start in the school’s parking lot at 35 Valley Street and will feature three supported cycling routes and a 5-mile ride/walk tour through the parks of Willimantic. Cyclists and walkers can also participate virtually by choosing their own route – in-state, out-of-state, on-road or off.

The Steeple Chase Ride/Walk benefits three critical social service organizations in eastern Connecticut that help people struggling with drug addiction, homelessness, mental health challenges, and poverty. For the fourth straight year, every dollar raised by participants, donors and sponsors will be matched by the Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation, doubling event proceeds.

“So many people took up cycling during the pandemic that there was a bike shortage,” remarked Victoria Nimirowski, chairperson of the Steeple Chase planning committee and executive director of Windham Area Interfaith Ministry. “This is a great opportunity to use those bikes to do good for others. Our non-profits – Perception Programs, Windham Area Interfaith Ministry, and the Windham Region No Freeze Project – help the most vulnerable, most at-risk members of our community every day. Throughout Covid, our organizations worked overtime, exceeding our already tight budgets, to keep people safe and healthy. This event is the biggest fundraiser for all three organizations and will help replenish our budgets so we can continue our life-saving work.”

Event organizers have created three dedicated cycling routes and one official walk/ride for the 30th Anniversary Steeple Chase. These in-person routes will start and end at St. Mary-St. Joseph School.

  • The classic 20-mile route is almost as old as the event and travels through the low-traffic backroads of South Windham, Windham Center, Chaplin, North Windham, Mansfield and Willimantic. 
  • The new 30th Anniversary route celebrates this event milestone by traveling 30 miles through Windham, Chaplin, Mansfield and Willimantic.
  • The Half Century route covers 50 kilometers – or 62.5 miles – of eastern Connecticut backroads and is one of the most beautiful rides in the state, with sweeping views and challenging hills.
  • A newly-designed 5-mile ride/walk will take participants through nine Willimantic parks and gardens and will showcase the community’s rural beauty.

Cyclists committed to the event’s beloved 100-mile Century Ride are invited to ride the route unsupported. In addition, virtual Steeple Chase participants can ride or walk wherever they want – through their neighborhood or hometown, on one of Connecticut’s traffic-free Rail Trails like the Hop River or the Airline Trail, or on out-of-state roads or trails. Virtual participants can ride or walk whenever they want, starting and finishing their route at a convenient day and time and donating by August 21.

By registering online and asking friends, family, employers, and others to sponsor the ride, participants can generate desperately needed funds used to shelter and secure housing for people experiencing homelessness, offer a path to recovery for people with addiction and mental illness, and provide basic needs from clothing to heat for individuals and families living in poverty. Over its history, the Steeple Chase Bike Tour has raised approximately $1.75 million to help fund its beneficiaries’ important work.

Pre-registration for the event is $25 for individual riders or walkers. In addition to registration, each rider is asked to raise a minimum of $75 in donations. Online registration for the Steeple Chase will continue through August 21 at www.steeplechasebiketour.org and www.bikereg.com/steeple-chase-bike-tour.

The Steeple Chase benefits from the generosity of corporate sponsors and donors including The Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation, The Chronicle Newspaper, Eversource Energy, Thread City Cyclists, Home Selling Team, Sarazin General Contractors, WILI AM, Willimantic Waste Paper, the board of directors of the Windham Region No Freeze Project, and many others. Companies and organizations interested in sponsorship should call Perception Programs at 860-450-7122.

For more information, visit www.steeplechasebiketour.org, call (860) 450-7122, email steeple.chase@perceptionprograms.org, or follow the event on Facebook @SCbiketour, Twitter @SCbiketour, Instagram @steeplechasebiketour, and on LinkedIn.