Shepherd Express: UPAF Calls on Cyclists with a Heart for the Arts

Shepherd Express | May 6, 2021

With only a month to go before the United Performing Arts Fund Rides for the Arts series, cyclists are urged to tune their cycles, plan their routes, and fire up friends and family. On three consecutive Sundays in June, throngs of bicyclists will descend upon Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Ozaukee counties to celebrate the 14 arts organizations that inspire Milwaukee through performances and educational outreach.

The Ride has been an annual event since 1980 and is UPAF’s single largest fundraiser. “This fundraising effort is more needed than ever,” said Katie Korek, UPAF’s public relations and digital media senior specialist. “Over 90 percent of our local artists have become unemployed since the COVID-19 outbreak, and UPAF groups are projecting an anticipated loss of over $22 million as a result of the pandemic.”

Organizing the Ride in these challenging times led UPAF to develop social distancing plans with the approval of the Milwaukee Health Department. To optimize participation, the event was extended over three weekends, thereby spreading arts evangelization beyond Milwaukee County, increasing access for prospective riders, and adding opportunities to keep cycling and enjoying live performances.

“Volunteers and event emcees will guide participants to maintain a safe distance and wear masks as they make their way through ‘Ride-to-Reward Stations’ at their own pace,” according to Korek. Signs promoting health and safety practices will also be displayed along the routes.

Amelia Kegel, owner and vice president of Wheel and Sprocket bike shops, recalls her family’s 40 years of involvement in the Ride. “My siblings and I have grown up helping with the Ride since we were old enough to pump a tire,” she said. “The Ride is family friendly and is often the first time we all get to ride together after a long winter cooped up inside.

“All three locations have short, medium and long route suggestions that culminate in an amazing start-to-finish line party with live performances and provide a great opportunity to try out some new spots,” Kegel said.

Registration fees are $45 for a single event, and $65 for the three-day series (June 6 at Milwaukee’s Veterans Park; June 13 at Brookfield’s Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts; and June 27 at Port Washington’s Coal Dock Park).

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