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Locals pedal for dollars

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By The Staff

Area bicycle riders raised about $5,200 last Saturday during the first Cycle for Education in Chiefland. The event began along the bike trail behind Chiefland Shopping Center and ran through Old Town and back for a ride of about 25 miles. The fundraiser attracted 33 riders and benefited the Levy County Schools Foundation's general fund. School Board member Paige Brookins, of Chiefland, was the chairperson for the Cycle for Education, spending a considerable amount of time planning and preparing last Saturday's ride. She said that the response was overwhelmingly positive, especially with the "above and beyond" effort from volunteers. "The community support and the sponsors were wonderful," Brookins said. "They were so generous and giving." A large portion of the money was raised by sponsorships and donations, but a big contributor was Levy County Commissioner Marsha Drew, of Yankeetown. Drew took donated pledges before her ride Saturday, and rode a total distance of 42 miles, singlehandedly raising $1,566 for the foundation, LCSF Coordinator Angela Johnson said. Brookins said the money will be used for things such as grants for teachers and students who can't afford to go on field trips. "I'm just overwhelmed and very excited to help in those ways, because money is so so tight right now," Brookins said. Another commissioner, Chad Johnson of Chiefland, did not ride, but was on hand to make a donation and greet and equip riders with their goodie bags that included free T-shirts and water bottles. Angela Johnson said that cyclists from Ocala, Citrus County and Alachua County participated in the ride, which took place during a busy weekend for the area.  Brookins said the positive response is encouraging for future bicycle fundraisers. "I do want to do it again if the foundation is willing," Brookins said. Angela Johnson agreed that the inaugural event was a success for the LCSF, so a future ride is likely. "It won't be the last," Angela Johnson said.

The foundation will hold its annual Evening of Excellence at 6:30 p.m. on April 22 at Bronson Elementary School. The event will honor the school district's teachers of the year and education support professionals of the year.