El Tour is now in its 32nd year, and more than 9,000 riders are expected to participate in the 2014 event scheduled for Nov. 22, 2014.
“We are thrilled to add Special Olympics to the Perimeter Bicycling family,” said Richard DeBernardis, founder & president of El Tour de Tucson, which will now be known as Special Olympics El Tour de Tucson. “It has a reputation in 170 countries for helping 4.2 million individuals with intellectual disabilities realize bright futures; at the local level, the state program, Special Olympics Arizona, is a vibrant one. We applaud Special Olympics’ mission and vision, and are honored to be part of it. The widespread and deep passion that people have for Special Olympics’ work should foster increased participation and charitable donations.”
Currently, more than 76,000 Special Olympics athletes around the world compete in the sport of cycling.
Since the event’s inception in 1983, 11 title sponsors have been part of Perimeter’s El Tour history. In 2013, El Tour did not have a sponsor after 11 consecutive years of sponsorship.
In 2013, nearly $4 million was raised for more than 35 charitable organizations despite persistent rain occurring throughout the day in Southern Arizona for the first time in the event’s 31-year history. Leading up to the ride, El Tour was headed toward record participation.
Historically, the event has brought in more than 8,000 riders with an estimated 35,000 spectators at last year’s event alone. A conservative estimate of El Tour’s annual economic impact to Tucson is $18 million.
National magazines through the years have ranked Tucson as one of the top cycling cities in the United States.
“We know that cycling is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States and we recognize the tremendous passion that cyclists possess both for the sport and important charitable causes. With our emphasis on using sport to advance social inclusion, a relationship between Special Olympics and the Perimeter Bicycling family is a welcome and natural fit,” said Janet Froetscher, CEO of Special Olympics. “Perimeter Bicycling is an expert on putting on cycling events and we are excited to be part of one of the premier cycling events in the country.”
DeBernardis founded El Tour in 1983, a 198-person event raising $5,500, with the objective of making it the United States’ largest charity-fundraising bicycling event. He’s done that with more than $40 million raised for charities throughout the event’s 31-year history. The event also serves the community by educating cyclists of the importance of fitness through cycling.