Your Seattle to Portland journey making an impact in Spanaway, Wash.


Guest bloggers Scott Birdseye and Alicia Porter from Spanaway Middle School explain the long-standing connection between the annual STP and the Spanaway community. 

Each year, 10,000 cyclists ride through Spanaway, Wash. on their way south from Seattle to Portland, Oreg. on the famous Kaiser Permanente STP presented by Alaska Airlines. From their starting point at the University of Washington, they travel 54 miles through cities, farmers' fields, back roads and busy streets towards their final goal of 204 miles—and a great big party waiting for them in Portland. As the riders turn a corner, Spanaway Middle School (SMS) comes into view, and it’s a very welcoming sight! 

The second big rest stop on the STP, SMS offers riders a chance for some rest, to refill water bottles, and grab some much-needed grub. Riders shuffle through the lines set up and manned by students, staff and family members of the school’s many after-school and extracurricular groups. Members of our football, volleyball, wrestling, basketball, track, baseball and softball teams work with band, orchestra and choir members, as well as members of our robotics, yearbook and bicycle clubs to hand out sandwiches, salads, energy bars, bananas, cookies and much, much more. All of the hard work STP riders see as they pass through SMS is just a small glimpse of the efforts put into making the day a success.

The day before riders wake up (well before they want to) and begin to converge on UW’s campus at the start of the ride, SMS volunteers are preparing meals. Our own storage isn’t large enough to handle the sheer mass of food brought in to feed riders, so refrigerated trucks are brought in to ensure everything stays cold. Under careful supervision, volunteers mix salads, build sandwiches and portion every item so that they are easy to grab as riders walk through the lines. In addition to preparing meal servings, SMS hands out 45 cases of bananas, 30 cases of grapes, 10 cases of oranges and 5,000 Clif Bars and much, much more! Boxes and coolers of food, enough to feed an army, are filled and laid out to be ready for the onslaught that will come in the morning.

The next morning, as riders are hitting the road, volunteers are setting out tables, pulling out food, arranging stations, unlocking the gates to our football field so that lunchers have a soft place to sit while they eat, and every other job that comes with feeding 10,000 hungry people. The first groups to come through, starting about 6:30 a.m., are the one-day riders, and they barely get off their bikes before they are on the road again. Around 7 a.m. the two-day riders begin to show up. Some leave just as quickly as the one-day riders, eager to get to that final stop down south so they can rest up and get back on the road in the morning. Most stick around, enjoying the time out of their saddle and a bite lovingly prepared by SMS volunteers. The day ends around 5 p.m., when the riders roll out and we can begin cleaning up.

SMS has been the 54-mile point and first-day lunch stop for the STP for over 20 years. The event is our largest fundraiser of the year; funds help pay for athletic and band uniforms, supplies for after-school activities, and provides the budget resources that allow after-school clubs to happen. Roughly 80% of SMS’s associated student body’s budget is funded by the money we earn preparing food for STP rest stops and manning the Saturday lunch stop. The funds raised benefit our school all year in every area including athletics, music, band and lots of other extra-curricular activities. Without the STP fundraiser, our athletic teams, clubs and fantastic music and choir programs would be required to run fundraisers throughout the year to ensure that they are able to provide enriching experiences for our students. Our partnership with Cascade Bicycle Club helps hundreds of students throughout the school year, and we look forward to many more years of this partnership!

For more information on SMS and how you can help, reach out to Alicia Porter, Event Coordinator, at

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