What is Bike Hike & Why is it held
In 1974 a group of local parents and interested citizens began meeting to draw attention to the unmet needs of the developmentally disabled in Randolph County. Through 1975 the group met throughout the county in churches, schools, and in any public forum available to bring this need to the attention of the citizens of Randolph County. Through the grass roots efforts of this group, the Randolph County Association for
Retarded Citizens was created. The R word is no longer used and the name has since been changed to “Randolph County ARC”. The Association was incorporated in 1975 and began a public awareness campaign about the need for services. The first priority for the group was a center for individuals to attend. The program was to be patterned after an existing program in Clay County, and funds and certification were sought from the Department of Mental Health and Intellectual Disability. The group soon learned from the Department, that before any state and federal money could be accessed, the local community would need local match money. Many private and business donations were made, but a large fundraiser was needed to start a program. At that time, in 1976, Randolph County had to raise $11,500.00.
In March of 1976 the Randolph County Association began plans for the first Bike Hike. The first Bike Hike in Randolph County caused much excitement and attention. The event was held in May, 293 bikers and walkers participated in this major event and raised over $27,000.00. The event even drew national attention because of 16-year-old Gene Gilham. Gilham completed the 25-mile in a wheelchair. Earl Manning from the local WELR radio station gave reports of Gene’s progress, and listeners called in pledges totally over $6,000.00. Gene wore out three pairs of gloves on his trek and was joined by a caravan on the last part of the route. In the weeks to come, messages of congratulations came in from Bear Bryant, Governor George Wallace, and President Gerald R. Ford.
Due to the success of the Bike Hike and hard work of Randolph County, the Randolph County Learning Center was established. The Center was housed in the American Legion Building, Post #53. The Center is still housed in the Post at no cost. The building was renovated with help of local businesses and volunteers. The program has struggled through lean times, but the local support has always kept it going.
The Randolph County Bike Hike continues. There have been many changes throughout the years. In 1986 the Warm-Up, individuals riding stationary bikes at the local radio station was added. Employees from Wedowee Hospital / now Tanner Medical have walked from the Hospital to the Radio Station starting out early that morning and arriving at the event around 8:30 to 9:00 in the morning. Pledges are called in to the radio station WELR. This event along with an annual auction continues to be the top money raiser for Bike Hike.
A Trike Trek for younger children was also added in 1986. The Trike Trek and Mini-Route continue as a regular event with the Bike Hike. New events come and go each year. There have been tandem bicycle races across the county, volleyball tournaments, tug of wars, and the racing of riding lawnmowers through downtown Roanoke in a Lawn Mower 500.
In May of 2020, the Randolph County Bike Hike will celebrate its 45th Anniversary. The caring and participation of Randolph County residents will be celebrated and remembered. Many individuals have participated in the Bike Hike since the beginning. Many young adults grew up participating in the event and have continued the tradition.
The Randolph County Learning Center continues to serve individuals with disabilities from throughout the Randolph County area. Services include, but are not limited to, daily transportation to and from the center, individualized training according to each person’s need, daily lunch, assistance with medical care, in-home training and in-home companion care, assistance with independent living, supported employment services, recreational activities, case management services, and assistance with Camp ASCCA trips.
The Randolph County Learning Center is a non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.
Where does your dollar go?
The Randolph County Learning Center is a non-profit day treatment center for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The Center was formed in 1975 and had its first ever fundraiser in May of 1976. The first Bike Hike was held to raise matching funds for state and federal support. The Randolph County Learning Center is sponsored by the Arc of Randolph County and contracts with the Alabama Department of Mental Health.
The Learning Center and the Bike Hike are in their 45th year. RCLC has developed an array of services for individuals with intellectual disabilities: These services are tailored to the individual needs of each person and structured to assist them to attain their personal life goals.
Donations to Bike Hike / Randolph County Learning Center are tax deductible. RCLC continues to need your help each year to continue to provide direct services and support each day.