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Riding for hope: How a bike ride is giving back to the NRV

The Fast and the Fiorini charity ride helps those looking for affordable housing and food

WYTHEVILLE, Va. – HOPE Inc. in Wytheville is asking you to grab your bike out of the garage or hop on an exercise bike to ride the distance and give back along the way.

Friday, Oct. 16 is the first day of The Fast and the Fiorini 17th annual charity ride.

The ride was created in 2004 and was originally named The Big Walker Ride, but was renamed after Ian Fiorini who was instrumental in starting the first ride.

Due to the pandemic, the race is virtual so you have until Nov. 1 to complete the distance.

Your registration goes back to HOPE Inc. This ride is the only fundraiser throughout the year that benefits the nonprofit as a whole. Hope Inc. has fundraisers throughout the year for its Open Door Café, a donate-what-you-can restaurant for those in need but that’s not all the organization does and The Fast and the Fiorini sheds light on that.

“Our idea was to sort of make it a little more than our local, regional reach, really try and get the word out about our programs that we’re doing here at Hope is the main goal,” said David Clark, marketing and development Coordinator at HOPE Inc.

Since The Fast and the Fiorini isn’t in person this year, Hope Inc. is inviting people from other states to participate too. There will even be a giveaway for the participating cyclist who is furthest from Wytheville.

While a virtual ride isn’t ideal Clark said they couldn’t postpone to next year because of the drastic increase in need as a result of the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, HOPE was housing one to two people in motels but since the COVID-19 outbreak, they hit a peak of 44 people a night.

Even with Open Door Café, typically half of the meals would be paid for or covered by donations but since the pandemic and the hardship that came with it, Clark said now only 10%-15% of meals are paid for.

So know when you register to ride that fee will help fund hope when people need it the most.

“With the riding that you’re doing you’re helping HOPE and our sort of five-county service area you’re helping many folks find affordable housing when they may be homeless as well as find a place that they’re able to find a meal, find food, it’s kind of an all-encompassing in giving back,” Clark said.

HOPE Inc. serves the counties of Wythe, Bland, Carroll, Grayson and Smyth and the city of Galax.

HOPE stands for helping overcome poverty’s existence.


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