The floods of Hurricane Irene nearly destroyed the town of Windham, New York, in recent weeks. Lives and property were lost, and several of the people responsible for bringing World Cup mountain bike racing back to the United States - all of whom are volunteers - lost their businesses or homes, and in some cases both.
In an effort to do his part in helping Windham recover, World Cup cross country racer and reigning US cross country and cyclo-cross national champion Todd Wells (Specialized) has pledged to donate his potential prize money from the CrossVegas cyclo-cross race during the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas to the Windham Area Recreation Foundation (WARF), which is providing Windham with flood relief from Hurricane Irene.
"My family lives about 40 miles from Windham, and their home has experienced flooding from the hurricane," said Wells. "I grew up in that area and some of my first races as a kid were at Windham. I have a lot of great memories from riding there. For several years the US lacked a World Cup event, and the people there really have a passion for racing and worked hard to bring a race to Windham. I want to support them in their recovery effort.
"Having the World Cup back in the US is so awesome," said Wells. "The World Cup circuit is tough, and most of the events are in Europe which takes American racers out of their element and comfort zone. Having a race on our home soil makes everything familiar and gives us a great energy."
WARF is accepting donations from all. Officials are currently determining the needs of residents and businesses by going door-to-door with recovery fact sheets and questionnaires.
WARF is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for, develop and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities. Donations are tax deductible and will go toward residents' short term, acute needs such as clothing, shelter, and food and a reserve for community businesses so that they can rebuild and recover.
While there is a slot on the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup for an "American" event, there is no official word yet on whether next year's World Cup will return to Windham.
For more information on how to donate, visit www.racewindham.com/wwc-donations.