The hottest ticket in town Friday night was for the 10th annual Saris Gala. Thanks to all of our 750 friends who packed the Saris Cycling Group factory in Madison and helped raise more than $109,000 for bicycling in Wisconsin. Over the last ten years, the Saris Gala has raised more than $800,000 for bicycle advocacy in Wisconsin. Wow!
The first Saris Gala was in 2003, was planned in four weeks and began as a glorified pizza and beer affair. Since those modest beginnings the gala has turned in to one of the country’s biggest fundraisers benefitting a bicycle-advocacy organization.
Friday’s 10th Anniversary Saris Gala was the biggest yet! The Hollywood costume theme added to the red carpet feel of the event. Half of that money will be dedicated to supporting our Dane County program, and the rest are unrestricted funds for statewide programing. In addition to our membership, events like the Saris Gala are key to supporting our efforts to fight the Iowa County permit legislation and other attacks on our right to free travel on public roads.
The Saris Gala could not happen without the tremendous dedication, support and commitment from the Saris Cycling Group. In 1989, Sara and Chris Fortune (Sara + Chris = Saris) purchased Graber Products, a Madison-area manufacturer of roof, trunk and hitch racks. In the over 22 years since Sara and Chris purchased the company they have built one of Wisconsin’s proudest bicycle companies. They have grown their business to include finely designed bicycle racks, commercial bicycle parking systems and sophisticated power monitoring and training equipment through their CycleOps brand.
The Saris Cycling family also includes Sara and Chris’ daughter Heather Fortune. As Saris’ Advocacy Coordinator, Heather works very hard to promote bicycling, not only in Wisconsin but around the country. She’s also the reason the Gala was such a huge success. Thanks to Heather, who worked tirelessly to pull off a major event. Heather had a lot of help from the Saris extended family of employees, in particular the indispensable Sarah Reiter, Lindsay Suttin and all of the other Saris employees who clear their factory stations, move things around and help the night of the event.
The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin is also indebted to the legendary Phil Liggett, who once again flew in for the event with a special carry-on – a suitcase full of courage. It is no exaggeration to say that Phil is one of the nicest and most entertaining people in the cycling world.
Thank you to everyone from Wheel and Sprocket, the hardest working team in retail. You all do so much for us (and always with a smile) I can’t list it all. We couldn’t do this without your support.
I and the entire staff of the Bike Fed could not be more grateful or humbled by the support we receive from the greatest community of cyclists in the country. One more reason why we are proud to say Wisconsin is America’s Best Ride.Note: We will have many more photos from super talented, super volunteer Darryl Jordan the award winning photographers at Focal Flame and in a future blog post next day or two.