By Ed Brock
It's not easy starting a new bicycle riding event like the one to be held this month to benefit the Good Shepherd Clinic.
But the organizers of the race, like First Baptist Church of Morrow's Pastor, the Rev. Stephen Cook, have a secret weapon to ensure at least some success with the inaugural ride scheduled for Sept. 18.
They're being advised by Margaret Joffre Bokros, a two-year employee of the Bike Center in Stockbridge who owned her own bicycle shop in Stone Mountain for 15 years.
"I've been leading bike rides and organizing biking events for 20 years," said Bokros, a committee member for the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia that currently benefits the Special Olympics.
Bokros' involvement in the planning for the event started about nine months ago when the president of the Good Shepherd board, Jimmy Lewis, brought his bike to the shop to get fixed and mentioned the ride to the shop's manager. The shop's manager referred Lewis to Bokros and she became the board's advisor on the event.
"She's been a good resource for us," Cook said.
Registration for the ride is set to begin at 7 a.m. Sept. 18 and the ride itself will start at 8:30 a.m., following an 11-mile course through the city of Morrow and parts of Clayton College and State University, Cook said.
"We see it as a way to promote family, health and fun as well as expanding support for the clinic," Cook said.
Located on Murphy Drive behind the First Baptist Church, the Good Shepherd Clinic opened in 2000 to provide health service to uninsured residents of the county.
However, currently Dr. Thomas Kelley volunteers his tme at the clinic that is only open on Mondays, meaning it must turn away about 100 people a week. Cook said they hope will to eventually be able to expand their hours of operation to five days a week and to hire a part-time doctor.
In July former Georgia state legislator and member of the Good Shepherd Clinic's board of directors Jim Wood hosted another of his famous Tomato Sandwich Parties that raised around $19,400 for the clinic. Cook said their goal for the bicycle ride is $6,500.
"The idea is that this is a ride, not a race," Cook said. "We want people to come out and have fun and be together as a family."
Most such events do not see big crowds in their first year, Bokros, so organizers must learn to expect that.
"It's really a marketing thing," Bokros said. "You can do an application and make a route but if you don't market it over and over it's going to be slow going."
The cost of applying for the race is $20, but Cook said they are giving a $5 discount to college students and members of youth groups from churches that support the clinic pay half price. Applications are available at the church, the Morrow Visitors Center, Morrow City Hall and other locations.
Waffle House and Chick-fil-A will provide food at the event and will donate a portion of their proceeds to the clinic. The Morrow Fire Department and Police Department will provide safety demonstrations and prizes will be raffled.
Also, the clinic board is selling Kroger Gift Cards in the amount of $20, $50 and $100. People who buy the cards can use them to buy anything at a Kroger store up to the amount of the card, and then 5 percent of the amount of purchase goes to the clinic.
The cards are for sale at the clinic or the churches that sponsor the clinic, board member L.C. Thomas said. They can be bought with check or, for cards of $50 or more, with a credit card.