The Great American Bike Race - The Largest Fundraiser of Its Kind

bike riders taking part in the largest fundraiser of its kind
bike riders taking part in the largest fundraiser of its kind

Each April, Bismarck, North Dakota, hosts the largest fundraiser of its kind in the country. One hundred teams take part in what's called the Great American Bike Race (GABR). Each team consists of ten people - that makes 1,000 riders!

There is a catch - the race is held indoors and takes place on stationary bikes. And the point of holding such a fundraiser? Well, the motto has always been, "Do it for the Kids!" Kids with cerebral palsy and related disabilities. Oftentimes these special needs children are in need of equipment and services not covered by insurance. For some families, the funds raised by GABR have been a life saver.

an excited little boy gets a head butt from his pediatrician who rides every year.
an excited little boy gets a head butt from his pediatrician who rides every year.

Better Than Christmas

The kids that this fundraiser is held for get so excited about the bike race that they have been known to say, "It's better than Christmas." Some of the kids with cerebral palsy even ride on their own team, even if it's just for a few minutes. It gives them a chance to focus on their ability instead of their disability.

Other kids who may not be able to ride often have family and friends who form teams in their honor. A local bank, who employs a special needs parent, forms not one, but eight teams. Also, most of the physical, occupational and speech therapists who work with these kids are a part of it as well. The kids know that all of the effort put into this fundraiser is for them and they couldn't be more excited about it.

Dr. Kevin Murphy poses with a team of therapists in disguise
Dr. Kevin Murphy poses with a team of therapists in disguise
Team members not only cheer each other on, they also fan the riders to help keep them cool.
Team members not only cheer each other on, they also fan the riders to help keep them cool.

The Race

The Great American Bike Race is in it's fourteenth year and has raised over one million dollars. It all began with the vision of one man - Dr. Kevin Murphy, a board certified physician in adult and pediatric rehabilitation. He is employed by Gillette Children's Hospital in Minnesota but comes to Bismarck every quarter (when he's not serving in Iraq) to monitor the progress of children who are receiving theraputic services through MedCenter One in Bismarck.

The team captain meeting held in February kicks off the event and then all 1,000 riders go out and raise funds. On race day, some riders in the race try to get as many miles as they can in the 25 minutes that they are on the bike. Some team members compete against each other and sometimes whole teams compete.

There are some serious riders who have actually ridden close to 20 miles on their stationary bike in the allotted time. But then there are those who don't care if they ride two miles - as long as they stay on the bike for 25 minutes, well, that's good enough for them. What everyone does agree on is that Race day is loud, crazy, fun and inspiring.

GABR funds have helped families in the following ways:

  • $155,923 towards therapy and medical services
  • $41,187 towards orthotics
  • $180,504 towards adaptive equipment
  • $121,334 towards wheelchairs and accessories
  • $189,866 toward home and vehicle modification

GABR funds have also helped families buy accessible vehicles and puts $7,500 towards a wheelchair accessible van.

North Dakota governor, John Hoeven gets interviewed by a local television station at the race
North Dakota governor, John Hoeven gets interviewed by a local television station at the race

A Community Effort

All riders and volunteers who participate, agree that this is a fantastic opportunity to get involved in a wonderful fundraiser. It's also a community event with several business serving as corporate sponsors, including The Bismarck Tribune, and the local television station who televises the race live over their noon hour. A local radio station plays all the music and keeps everyone entertained.

Once someone gets involved and actually attends the event, they are hooked and remain involved through the years. What a privilege for Bismarck, North Dakota to host this amazing event.

More by this Author


Comments 22 comments

sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

What a wonderful fundraiser, the best I've ever heard of!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

That is such a wonderful idea and amazing the money you get together. Thank you for a great hub.


AARON99 6 years ago

What a wonderful hub it is! This is really helpful. Well done. Enjoy.


Specialk3749 profile image

Specialk3749 6 years ago from Michigan

Wow, I have never heard of this kind of fund raiser before. You have done a nice job informing us about it!


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

What a fantastic idea!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

What a great way to hold a fundraiser. Good hub.


Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

I have been recieving a lot of phone calls lately regarding pledges for our firefighters and other fundraisers but unfortunately i cannot help them all. However this is an exceptional way to reach out and help. It is personal and includes the entire neighborhood, and now many more through your great hub whereas phonecalls often are much less effective! Well done, cari!


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

This is excellent. I love the fact that kids who weren't able to ride had family and friends who formed teams in their honour. Lovely.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

sheila b. - yes, it is a wonderful fundraiser! Thanks for your comment.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

Hello, hello - thanks for your comment. We just held this event over the weekend and everyone is excited to find out how much money we raised. Last year it was $199,000 so we're hoping we beat that!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

AARON99 - thanks so much for your comment. It is greatly appreciated!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

specialk3749 - thanks for stopping in, it is always great to hear from you!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

breakfastpop - it is a fantastic idea, isn't it. I'll have to ask Dr. Murphy next time I see him how he came up with it.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

Pamela99 - We just held this fundraiser this past Saturday and once again it was an amazing event!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

Ann Nonymous - I agree that we can't help all of those in need and honestly I don't think phone calls are the best way to raise money. I'm so thankful for this event held right here, not only in my homestate but my hometown! There are so many factors that go into this even that make it great - it's competetive, it's fun, it's crazy and most of all it brings out the giving spirit in people. Thanks for your comment!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

Lady_E - it is great to see all of the support the kids get from their friends, family and even those who may not know them personally. We formed a team for our daughter this year (who can't ride) and we have some much interest that we may be forming two teams for her next year. It is our prayer though that one day she'll be able to ride as well!


TINA V profile image

TINA V 6 years ago

It is encouraging to know that there are still a lot of people with a big heart. I really admire them for the extra effort to help in an extra mile. I wish this group much blessings from above. Great hub!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

TINVA V - Thank you so much for your comment. It is always an event that is full of encouragement, inspiration as well as determination.


stars439 profile image

stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

It is nice that people do good things for others. God Bless You.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

stars439 - thanks for your comment, it's so nice to hear from you. Be Blessed!


Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England

Wow, what an interesting race. I'd never heard about it but I'd really like to take part one day. Thanks for sharing teh hub with everyone.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

Rick - yes, it is a fantastic fundraiser to be a part of. There is so much excitement and team spirit - you really have to be there to realize just what a spectacular experience it is. Thanks so much for your comment.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working