EnvironmentThe Examiner

Greeley Students Organize Bike-a-Thon to Combat Climate Change

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Regina Velasco and Sara Asa are among many in their age group who are distressed at the potential consequences of climate change in the years and decades ahead. Instead of just talking about it or getting frustrated, the pair of friends and Horace Greeley High School juniors decided to try and make a difference.

This Saturday, they have organized a bike-a-thon that will start in the south parking lot at the Chappaqua Metro-North station and raise money for Earth Guardians, an organization that encourages young people to be leaders regarding environmental and climate justice.

“It’s definitely one of the most pressing matters right now, and especially for our generation because we’re getting all of this information that climate change very soon will be very irreversible,” Asa said. “So, it’s so important for us to take the initiative, to kind of put it out there that this is a problem and this is a problem now.”

Asa started the bike club at school last year during the pandemic, and one of her earlier ideas was to organize a club event over the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. While that failed to gain traction from school advisers, she decided this school year to partner with Velasco, who heads the Sustainability Club, on an event where they can combine their clubs’ activities.

Velasco said many students participated in the return of the climate strike this year on Mar. 25, also known as Fridays for Future, which had been inspired by student activist Great Thunberg. Thunberg had started protesting government policies that she believed disregarded the climate crisis, holding signs outside the Swedish Parliament.

Participation at this year’s events, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, was highly promising including locally, Velasco noted.

“It was very encouraging to see that because it is a generational issue that maybe people who are older that didn’t grow up thinking about (what) their every-day impacts are and how they affect the Earth,” Velasco said. “But now it’s kind of becoming more clear with the science and the new technology that everyone is contributing more and it’s just continuing to grow and this is becoming our problem.”

Asa and Velasco settled on Apr. 23, the day after Earth Day for the event when many local communities are organizing spring cleanups and various, they said. The students reached out and worked with Town of New Castle officials to make sure they could use the lot and to provide some security for the cyclists.

Saturday’s bike-a-thon will be a continuous three-mile loop from the train station, over the Route 120 bridge to Douglas Road and down to Hardscrabble Road and back. The event begins at 11 a.m. with games, food, music and informational tables in hopes of making it a fun and meaningful event. The bikers will hit the road at 11:30 a.m. and can continue to pedal until 2 p.m. It is a rain-or-shine event.

Participants can sign up sponsors who make donations that will go to Earth Guardians.

Cyclists from throughout the area, not just the immediate community, are welcome to join. For those who don’t want to or can’t ride, they can come to the train station, lend their support to the cause and make a donation if they wish.

While Asa and Velasco needed to put in more time and effort than originally planned, the pieces are falling into place nicely as Saturday approaches. They plan to do this again next year and hope younger students will pick up the effort once they graduate and head to college.

“It’s definitely a lot to put this together,” Velasco said. “It’s a lot of work and it’s been fun to see how it’s all coming together.”

For more information and to register in advance to ride, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/chappaqua-earth-day-bike-a-thon-tickets-294204051237.

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