By Lily Ramos
As the Tour de Pier rolls into its fifth year, the event will continue to rise into success.
The fifth annual Tour de Pier is on May 21, 2017, and it will bring stationary bikes to the Manhattan Beach pier for riders. Proceeds from the event will be donated to The Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, The Uncle Kory Foundation and Cancer Support Community-Redondo Beach.
“As a cycling enthusiast, I had actually participated in a similar outdoor event in Barcelona during the 2009 Tour de France,” Heath Gregory, one of the co-founders of the event said. “In a heartbeat, I said, “I am all in.” Around that time, [the other co-founders and I] lost four family members to cancer and it was a way of channeling my frustration with the disease and make a difference.”
The three co-founders of this event, Heath Gregory, Jon Hirshberg, and Lisa Manheim, work to raise money and run the event each year. This year they have partnered with Ford to do a raffle in which participants could win a choice of a $50,000 car or $30,000 in cash. The event is made possible by the donations, the organizers are hoping to raise $1.2 million this year.
“Some people call it runner’s’ high,” Hirshberg said. “I call it Tour de Pier high. Words can’t express the emotional journey of seeing all these people on bikes spinning together. The tears, the love, the energy that gets created is electric.”
To participate in the event, people must pay the $150 entry fee and then raise an additional $600 worth of donations. They donate the money themselves or fundraise to get money from others. Mira Costa students such as Isabelle Polizzotto have participated in the Tour de Pier in previous years and will participate again this year.
“Tour de Pier has inspired me because it shows how strong and supportive of a community we are able to be apart of,” Polizzotto said. “You may know two people at the event or you may know fifty people, but it doesn’t matter because everyone there is there for the same reason and raising money for a serious cause.”
This year, there will be 350 stationary bikes at the event, and about 1,600 participants throughout the day, with five fifty-minute spin classes. The Tour de Pier has also partnered with FitOn and Bay Club, who provide experienced spin bike instructors.
“I always say that the Tour de Pier is not your average spin class, it is really a most unique fundraising event, and you have to experience it to really understand that feeling of riding a spin bike, staring at the ocean, listening to great music all while doing good for so many,” Manheim said.
Many members of the Manhattan Beach community of all ages get together for the Tour de Pier, including civic leaders, lifeguards, police, the fire department, downtown businesses, and residents. There will also be booths, festivities, and games to participate in available to all attendees.
“Many in our community are facing silent battles,” Gregory said. “The event offers a way for people from around the South Bay and beyond, to connect with others facing the fights of their lives, while also celebrating life. The energy that comes from all being in one place for 5 hours is unlike any other physical philanthropy event.”
The Tour de Pier will start at 7:30 a.m. and run until 1:30 p.m. on May 21st. The event will include awards for the companies who have raised the most money or bought the most bikes. The Sponsorship & Expo Coordinator for the event, Anne Kelly, hopes that the Tour de Pier can spread to other cities in the future, Kelly said.
“I believe this is a rewarding experience,” Polizzotto said. “I think in today’s time we need more people doing things for other people rather than themselves. Our generation is known to be very selfish and self fulfilling group of people. But through Tour de Pier, these people are out here on their own free will and choosing to help a very important cause.”
A video of the 2016 Tour de Pier showing many of the events and participants of the event in at the Manhattan Beach Pier. The 2016 Tour de Pier raised thousands of dollars in donations that were donated to cancer foundations.