It began as a personal fitness goal. Ithaca College graduate student Kristopher Bosela, who played multiple sports growing up, was recovering from two ankle surgeries last year and decided to work up to a 100-mile bike ride to get back in shape.
The bike ride turned into a fundraiser for the Ithaca Youth Bureau, and Bosela has set a goal of raising $1,000 for the organization.
“I wasn’t planning on doing it as a fundraiser for the bureau,” Bosela said. “About four months ago, I was thinking if I’m going to do this, maybe I can use this ride as an opportunity to raise money for the bureau.”
Bosela began his ride Oct. 15 at his house on Grandview Avenue. He then biked through town to Cass Park, up to Black Diamond Trail, through the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, back down to route 90, across to Kings Ferry and onto 34B. He concluded the ride at the youth bureau.
Bosela began working with the bureau in the spring of 2015 and was placed with a little brother through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters club at the college. The One-to-One Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ithaca and Tompkins County program is housed in the Ithaca Youth Bureau and pairs adults with local children. Joe Gibson, the director of the program, said there are currently about 170 children paired up with mentors.
The bureau also opened up Stewart Park to all children for an afternoon of bike riding and gave away helmets from 1 to 3 p.m., about the time Bosela finished his ride.
Bosela paired up with the IC Bigs club to raise the $1,000 for the bureau’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program. The club had been fundraising for the ride, nicknamed Miles for Munchkins, through the college donation site.
Senior Emily McLane, president of the club, said they began raising money at the beginning of the school year.
“We posted around for people to donate money through the IC Bigs account so we can donate to the youth bureau,” McLane said. “We do fundraisers throughout the year, but we haven’t done one this big in awhile.”
The bigs and littles meet once a week and complete activities, ranging from arts and crafts to homework to playing catch in the park. Gibson said the goal of the program is for the littles and bigs to form friendships.
Bosela said he had to stop working with his match this year because he started graduate school. Gibson said he was initially a little shocked when Bosela reached out to him two months ago about his bike ride.
“We thought that he had moved on,” Gibson said. “Then he reached out and said he was going to do this bike ride and offered us the chance to benefit from it, and of course we said yes.”
Bosela said the club’s hope is that this becomes a community event.
“The entire mentality we are approaching this with is that we want it to be a community effort,” Bosela said. “We don’t care if you just donate a dollar, but that you forward the message and tell five more people about what is happening.”
Bosela is still accepting donations for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. He said he will be doing the ride again next year and hopes to make this into a larger event.
“This is my way of continuing to support the youth bureau at this point when I can’t volunteer for them,” he said. “I really hope this starts to catch on and I can get more people to do it with me next year.”