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We held our Raffle at Solano Avenue Cyclery for our Specialized 29er. The Raffle was to raise funds for John Bennett’s adventure to go and race at the 2008 UCI World Mountain Bike Championships at Val di Sol, Italy. I pulled together all of the tickets from our sellers and locations and mixed them up real good! Then this young hippy couple walked into the shop leaving their small white school bus parked in the red zone and I asked the young lady to pick a ticket. She rolled up her sleeve and swooshed around in the sack of tickets and pulled one out.

The winner of our Specialized 29er is Johann Smitt of the San Francisco Sport and Spine Racing Team. I called Johann, who was on the road on business, and he said, “cool! I want you guys to have it back and do what you want with it.” Just like that.

People seldom surprise me but I am always amazed. During this fundraising I have talked to hundreds of people. Sure the Raffle was an attraction but what I heard most was the desire to support John in his effort at the Worlds. What they wanted was to get him there and make sure he had a good experience. I heard this very often. What I also heard was “if I win this bike I’ll just give it back to you.” I swear. And now it has really happened; something I had hoped but did not expect.

Our effort, with donations and ticket sales, has grown to over $3000 and we haven’t swept all the corners yet. Solano Avenue Cyclery, The Bicycle Trails Counsil of the East Bay, MTBR, Well Grounded Tea and Coffee, Cyclepath of Hayward, Chris Treadway of the Contra Costa Times and the racers and parents of El Cerrito Racing have given so much of their time, energy and money to make this all happen and focus the generosity of our cycling community. I like to think that it is because they believe, not just in John Bennet, but also in what we do as cyclists for the cyclists of the future.

When confronted with the idea of John going to the Worlds I was hit by the magnitude of the financial need. I knew that the cycling community would rally to this cause and I was not disappointed. There is something emblematic in the mountain biker who tosses another rider a tube in the middle of nowhere. It is what you hope for but never take for granted. That’s just how it’s done to keep riders rolling forward.

Thank you all for your attention, kind thoughts, and patience with this process. We are very lucky to have this.

Michael Mejia
Director, El Cerrito Racing
 
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