Beach Cities Cycling Club Kicks off Challenge ride

Alisa Stein, Samantha Corti, Sean Pantellere, Leticia Sanchez and Jim Hannon at the Best Buddies Challenge kickoff ride. Photo

Alisa Stein, Samantha Corti, Sean Pantellere, Leticia Sanchez and Jim Hannon at the Best Buddies Challenge kickoff ride. Photo

For thirteen years, Jim Hannon has partnered with Best Buddies to promote their activities in and around the Beach Cities.

But no matter how long he works with them, the organization and its mission hit the president of the Beach Cities Cycling Club square in the heart.

“It’s so important to so many people, and it’s all about quality of life,” Hannon said. “These are significant human beings.”

Between 80 to 90 people participated in the BCCC’s Best Buddies Challenge – Hearst Castle kickoff ride on Saturday, March 25, which began and ended at RomanAroma Cafe.

The Best Buddies Challenge is an annual fundraiser for the organization, which offers programs to help mentally challenged individuals improve their quality of life by offering friendship and job training programs.

“We’re lucky to have such great schools that offer programs to help them get through,” Hannon said. “But Best Buddies fills the gap [to adulthood], gives them value and helps them.”

On September 9, participating fundraising teams will ride along Highway 1 from Carmel to Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Once there, participants are treated to an open bar, a barbecue and a private concert for their fundraising efforts

Lettie Sanchez, a 22 year old Buddy from Wilmington, has been working with Kaiser Permanente through Project SEARCH, a workforce training program. When she graduates from the program in June, Best Buddies will help her with job placement.

Sanchez was there at the finish line, sharing her story with the day’s riders.

“It feels very good to be working with Best Buddies,” Sanchez, who is diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, said. “I would love to continue this in the future if they need my help — I’m there to speak in front of a crowd.”

Hannon hopes to have a strong showing on BCCC’s B4 team.

“It’s an incredible weekend, and an incredible ride for an incredible reason,” Hannon said. ER



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