Spotlight on STP: Altrusa International

Group Health STP presented by Alaska Airlines is just around the corner on July 16-17!

The 37-year-old event is the largest annual fundraiser for Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes. Registration fees from STP support Cascade’s bicycle education programs for children, families, school groups and everyone else who wants to ride a bike. They also allow us to give back to other organizations that help make the ride possible. So without further ado, let's shift the spotlight to a great organization that STP helps support.

Altrusa International 

Riverside Park in Lexington, Wash. — Mile mark 146

Ilona Kerby was there the first year Altrusa International supported STP and has been the coordinator for the food stop for more than 25 years. According to her, it all started with a phone call in 1988 (or maybe ‘89, who can remember!) from the Longview/Kelso Chamber of Commerce. Cascade was looking for help at their food stop. The rest is history. Lexington is the only free food stop on the STP route without a kitchen or storage area. After a year of unloading a truck full of food for thousands, box by box and all by hand, it was unclear how the volunteers could continue. Luckily the community rallied and provided some much-needed support to make the rest stop run more efficiently. The stop now includes a locally-donated forklift, a refrigerated semi-trailer, and an off-site kitchen full of volunteers preparing and transporting over 15,000 sandwiches for very hungry riders.

Planning begins early in the year and takes approximately 120 hours of Ilona and her committee members’ time to prepare. The group of volunteers is comprised of Ilona’s former corrections co-workers and other community volunteers, as well as dedicated Altrusa members, some of whom have been working STP for 15+ years.

On the day of the event, 60 to 70 of these volunteers will work Saturday afternoon into the evening to support the one-day riders, and then wake early and spend all of Sunday supporting the two-day riders. They’ll cut 4,000 oranges, haul 53 cases of bananas and refill snack bins all weekend. According to Ilona, their involvement continues because the volunteers “enjoy interacting with riders from all over, love that they so appreciate our work and because it helps us to support local community needs.”​

Thanks to STP participants, Cascade Bicycle Club is able to pay it forward and support Altrusa International's great work in the Longview and Kelso communities. Their primary focus is literacy, providing books to school libraries and families in need, as well as supporting literacy events throughout the community. Leftover non-perishable food goes to their Backpack Buddies program, giving weekend food to students in need. One of their proudest projects is their Youth Awards recognizing high school students who have overcome challenges such as homelessness or incarcerated parents while earning their diploma.

Without organizations like Altrusa International of Longview/Kelso, STP would not be possible. Thanks to almost 30 years of service. See you in July!

You can still register for the STP and improve lives through bicycling. Visit cascade.org/stp.