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Ride for Reading promotes bike safety, literacy

Cortney Bloomer
Carson City Health and Human Services

When elementary school teacher Mathew Portell discovered one of his students didn’t have anything to read at home, he began asking fellow cyclists to donate books. Seven years later, his Nashville-based nonprofit, Ride for Reading, has distributed more than 250,000 books — by bike — in 16 states, including Nevada.

This year, the Western Nevada Safe Routes to School Program, based in Carson City but also serving Lyon, Douglas, and Story Counties, will hold their second Ride for Reading event. Books will be delivered to elementary schools in Carson City during the week of Sept. 28−Oct. 2 and Lyon County during the following week, Oct. 5−9.

Volunteers will share their love of both reading and bikes with students at three Carson City elementary schools. Students at Bordewich-Bray, Fritsch, and Fremont elementary schools will each receive a book to keep and a lesson on bicycle safety as part of Ride for Reading Week. Book deliveries will take place in Dayton and Fernley the following week.

“I had the opportunity to participate in my first Ride for Reading Event in Las Vegas several years ago as part of the Interbike trade show,” explained Western Nevada Safe Routes to School Coordinator Cortney Bloomer. She continued, “It was a wonderful experience, we met (Ride for Reading Founder) Mathew Portell and delivered books to a school full of very excited kids. Nevada’s State Safe Routes to School Coordinator Tim Rowe and I agreed that we needed to bring this event to the northern part of the state.” This year, the event is happening in a big way. Over the course of two weeks, students in both counties will receive a book to keep as part of the event. Cyclists from around the region who are interested in learning what it feels like to be a rock star are encouraged to volunteer for the deliveries. “When you ride onto the playground at the school, and the kids are excited and cheering, high-fiving the riders, it’s the most gratifying feeling in the world. This is my favorite Safe Routes to School event,” said Bloomer.

The event promotes literacy, and, of course, bicycle safety. All riders are required to model good cycling behavior, and to wear a helmet for deliveries. Safety is the focus of every event. Once the riders arrive at the school, the kids get a short talk about the importance of reading, and also bike safety. They pledge to read and share their books, and to be safe on their bikes.

Delivery Schedule for Carson City:

Fritsch: Tuesday, Sept. 29. Meet at Carson City Health and Human Services at 12:45 p.m.

Bordewich-Bray: Wednesday, Sept. 30. Meet at Carson City Health and Human Services at 12:45 p.m.

Fremont: Friday, Oct. 2. Meet at the Carson City Corporate Yard on Butti Way at 12:45 p.m.

Volunteers are needed to help with deliveries in both counties. To participate or to learn more, contact Western Nevada Safe Routes to School Coordinator Cortney Bloomer at cbloomer@carson.org or by phone at 775-283-7525.

For more information about other Health Department services, check out our website at http://www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at http://www.facebook.com/cchhs.