People with disabilities mounted their bicycles alongside the community members who support them on Saturday morning, kicking off the 44th annual Ride-A-Bike for ADEC together.

This year’s ride has already raised more than $50,000, a 36 percent increase over 2015 totals — and donations are still trickling in. The number of registered riders and walkers was also up 70 percent over 2015.

Ride-A-Bike is the largest fundraiser for ADEC, a nonprofit that advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities so they enjoy lives full of choice and possibility. The organization serves more than 1,100 clients and families throughout Elkhart and St. Joseph counties.

The event is also one of the longest standing spring traditions for families in Elkhart County. The ride itself offers walking and riding routes ranging in length from one mile to 30 miles, but Ride-A-Bike is much more than that.

Ride-A-Bike focuses on fun and inclusion. It’s a chance for ADEC clients to spend time in their communities by collecting pledges and showing people in the community the amazing things they are capable of accomplishing.

A favorite part of this year’s Ride-A-Bike were the Support and Gear stops located strategically throughout the courses with snacks and other motivations. ADEC clients and staff greeted riders at those stops with waves, friendly greetings and lots of cheers.

“Our goal is to connect our clients with their community, and Ride-A-Bike is just one way we do that,” said Donna L. Belusar, ADEC CEO and President. “Ride-A-Bike is much more than a fundraiser. It’s a chance for us to raise awareness in the community about the many great things we do to help people with disabilities realize their full potential and achieve their dreams.”

The money raised from this year’s Ride-A-Bike will help ADEC continue to stand out in helping people with disabilities become independent and valued members of the community. The funds will go toward things like ADEC’s summer camp, which is offered at a reduced rate for children with disabilities, or to expanding the vocational opportunities offered at each of ADEC’s five day sites.

The event would not have been possible without the support of community sponsors, particularly the Community Foundation of Elkhart County and 1st Source Bank.

“We are extremely grateful to our dedicated donors and sponsors, our loving volunteers and our energetic Ride-A-Bike participants,” said Jessica Koscher, ADEC Chief Development Officer. “It is because of them that ADEC is able to maintain high-quality services that help people with disabilities enjoy the rights and freedoms they deserve.”

Participants were encouraged to register online this year, which gave individuals the ability to collect pledges electronically through a secure donation system. It is never too late to make an online, tax-deductible donation — simply visit

Ride-A-Bike will return in May of 2017 to celebrate two major milestones: ADEC’s 65th birthday and the 45th year of Ride-A-Bike. We’ll see you there!

Article by Michelle Sokol | Media Communications Specialist

Photo by Rod Tackett | Communications Specialist