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Did You Know?

A bicycle commuter who rides four miles to work, five days a week, avoids 2,000 miles of driving and about 2,000 pounds of CO2 emissions each year.

Did you know about MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive's charity partner program?

On May 26, riders from the Center for Independent Futures (CIF) in Evanston, along with thousands of other cyclists from around Chicago, will take the over Lake Shore Drive during MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive.

But the CIF riders will have an added purpose to their day — these riders will be raising funds to support the community that helps them daily./

CIF is an Evanston-based organization that helps adults with disabilities and their families live fuller, freer lives through housing assistance and a supportive community.

CIF is one of 16 organizations that have signed up thus far to take part in MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive’s charity partner program this year.

The event’s charity partner program began last year with the goal of providing an opportunity for other nonprofits to raise money to support their own work.

Partner charities save money by raising funds for their own cause without the expenses of producing their own special events. Riders receive a discounted registration in return for supporting their passions.

For CIF, this means raising funds that supports weekly events and activities that are the heart of their community. In the past, these have included a trip to Six Flags Great America, the creation of a dating club and hosting a poker night. CIF plans the events based on community members’ requests.

Rob Larson, the community life coordinator for CIF, is organizing the team for MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive. He said CIF doesn’t receive government funding, so fundraising events like this are vital.

“We really do rely on community effort and community partnership to make this sort of thing happen,” said Larson./

But perhaps most important is the involvement CIF community members are able to take in the fundraising process.

“Last year was the first year that we ever had our community members actively participate in fundraising themselves,” said Larson. Being able to take ownership of the process was empowering. The team set up a website and reached out to family and friends to raise support.

This year, CIF hopes to have 30 or more riders on its team. They’ll be preparing for the event with safety information sessions, tune ups and practice rides.

Larson said CIF participants are looking forward to the big day. Remembering last year’s ride, Larson said, “For our community to sign up, register, go downtown and ride with thousands of other riders from Chicago just felt like an inclusive spirit.”

If you represent a charity and are interested in raising money while participating in MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive, you must register your team before May 10  (riders have until May 25 to register).

Not yet signed up for MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive? Register here.

This post was contributed by Julie Davis, a volunteer blogger for Active Trans. Photos show CIF participants in MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive  2012.