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ADEC proudly advocates for and serves people with developmental and cognitive disabilities so they live lives full of choice and possibility.

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Small gifts add up to big totals for ADEC

Tom Nickel repeats as top pledge winner and Missy Mast shows what teamwork can do during ADEC’s 2014 Ride-A-Bike awards luncheon Thursday. Amy Keerl takes home the new Spirit of Ride-A-Bike award inspired by Larry Bontrager, and the Janzen family is honored by Bradley S. Vite.

Posted on June 13, 2014 at 4:38 p.m.

Missy Mast worked hard all spring collecting pledges for the May 17 ADEC Ride-A-Bike. She cornered friends at church and customers at ADEC’s Gaining Grounds coffee shop where she works. She canvassed the MDC Goldenrod campus and asked for pledges from ADEC staff. The donations trickled in – $5, $10, $25, a few $50 – building up little by little to a bigger and bigger total. The final count of $2,211 surprised even Missy.

“I just kept asking people, and they’d give me whatever they could,” she said, not sounding pushy at all. Her 9-page pledge sheet contained more than 100 names.

Missy recruited friends to ride with her on Ride-A-Bike day, and those friends started collecting pledges, too. Her boyfriend, Drew Lincoln, raised $703.90. Joe Bechlem and Sarah Toews added $160 to the total. None of them came close to matching Missy, but it wasn’t a competition among them.

The effort took on a more somber tone when the father of one of their friends died the weekend before Ride-A-Bike. Missy wanted to do something special for her friend Andrew Sisson and his mother, Mary Ellen. She decided the best thing she could do was dedicate her Ride-A-Bike efforts to the Sissons, so she did. She named her team, “In Memory of Mike Sisson.”

“For Andrew,” she said.

Two more friends, Stephen Lang and Lisa Mort, pooled their pledges. All together, the six friends raised $3,586.90, becoming the 2014 Gold Ride-A-Bike team winner. They also showed Andrew just how much they cared and gave him a special way to remember his father.

Missy’s team, along with other ADEC Ride-A-Bike Award winners received prizes, applause and recognition Thursday, June 12, during an awards luncheon at Antonio’s Restaurant in Elkhart.

But the praise they heard the loudest came from Andrew.

“For my dad,” he said.

Top Pledge Raisers

ADEC’s Ride-A-Bike, a springtime tradition for many families, is the longest-running event of its type in Elkhart County. More than 200 participants turned out at Northridge High School May 17, a chilly, rain-drenched day, for this year’s event. The venue and routes were all different, but the commitment of the participants remained as strong as ever. Between sponsorships, pledges and in-kind gifts, ADEC’s 42nd Ride-A-Bike brought in close to $40,000 for ADEC.

“The thing that makes Ride-A-Bike so outstanding,” said Donna Belusar, ADEC President and CEO, “is the way it brings our community together for one common purpose – to provide supports and encouragement to the children, adults and families ADEC is so privileged to serve.”

For the eighth year in a row, Tom Nickel was the top adult pledge winner, collecting $3,500 and winning the Gold Award. Other winners in the adult division were Shelly Miller-Vice, Silver, and Don Anderson, Bronze.

Dominic Ramer, 6, of Goshen, received a bicycle donated by Elkhart Bicycle Shop for being the youth Gold winner. Other winners in the Youth division were Serena Martin, Silver, and Bryan Munoz, Bronze.

Only $86 separated the top two teams. Nickel’s “Keeping the Faith,” named for his daughter Faith, came in second, taking Silver with $3,500 in pledges. USI Insurance, one of the Ride-A-Bike sponsors, won the third-place Bronze team award with pledges of $2,849. Don Anderson, president of USI Insurance, serves on ADEC’s Board of Directors.

Spirit of Ride-A-Bike

The fourth-place team, Larry Bontrager Memorial, was another formed in memory of a loved one. Larry Bontrager served as Vice President at ADEC for 15 years and was the face of Ride-A-Bike during that time as he directed the event. Bontrager died February 22 after a 14-month battle with pancreatic cancer. As a tribute to him, his family led the walkers at Ride-A-Bike, and his son Colin announced the start of the race just as his father had done during his tenure at ADEC.

“It was no secret how much energy Larry invested into Ride-A-Bike’s success every year,” said Shelly Miller-Vice, Bontrager’s significant other. “Many personal plans were thwarted in light of its timing, and he wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

To honor Bontrager, ADEC created a new Ride-A-Bike award for 2014, Spirit of Ride-A-Bike, inspired by Larry Bontrager.

The first recipient, Amy Keerl, who didn’t know she was getting the award until her name was called, exemplifies the same enthusiasm and devotion to Ride-A-Bike Larry showed. A long-time ADEC client and Ride-A-Bike participant, Amy often makes it to the top tier of Ride-A-Bike pledge raisers, but she’s never won the top award. 

Bradley S. Vite Award

The final award, the Bradley S. Vite Award for volunteerism, went to the Janzen family. The Janzens – David and Cynthia and sons Ben and Steve – have been riding in Ride-A-Bike since the early 90s. For 20 years, they’ve supported ADEC by collecting pledges and riding for the cause.

“It’s hard to pinpoint the exact amount they’ve raised in that time, but a ballpark estimate puts the total well over $10,000,” said Bradley Vite who presented the award. “Thank you for your dedication and commitment to Ride-A-Bike. Your continued support inspires the rest of us,” he told the family.


Ride-A-Bike sponsors also were recognized during the luncheon, including Fabric Services and 1st Source Bank, Gold; Triangle Rubber Co., Jayco, USI Insurance and, Indiana Trust & Investment Management Company, Silver; Robert Weed Plywood, Interra Credit Union and Marv & Tom’s Truck Service and Wash, Bronze.

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