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With a goal to raise the final amount needed to sponsor the centerpiece of the Jaycees All Abilities Park, five local girls have again teamed up to host the third annual Wheels for Wheels Bike-A-Thon.

The all-ages event will be held Saturday, May 11, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rotary Riverfront Trail in Downtown Washington. Hot dogs and lemonade will be for sale at the event.

As in years past, participants may come at any time during the event and can ride whatever length and time they would like.

Students organizing the event include Sophie Straatmann, St. Francis Borgia Grade School; Maggie Westhoff, St. John’s-Gildehaus; Justine Huellinghoff, Washington Middle School; Britney Harriman, Our Lady of Lourdes; and Ellie Scheer, New Haven R-II.

Three of the five organizers have siblings who will directly benefit from the park, including Straatmann.

Last year, the girls raised about $7,000. In their inaugural year, they raised about $5,000, which also is this year’s goal. The girls also hope to have 100 or more cyclists participate in the event.

Those who register before April 26 will get a free T-shirt. Participants who collect at least $20 will be eligible for attendance prizes, which will be drawn throughout the day.

Riders do not have to register to participate, just to get a T-shirt or be eligible for prizes.

The top fund-raiser will receive four Cardinals tickets in the Red Bird Club seating, an air-conditioned area under an overhang. The date of the tickets has not yet been determined.

Registration forms are available at the Downtown Washington post office, school offices, Wheels for Wheels Bike-A-Thon Facebook page, Revolution Cycles, Four Rivers Area Family YMCA and at allabilitiespark.org.

Forms can be dropped off at the post office in Downtown Washington or mailed to the Washington Jaycees, P.O. Box 6, Washington, MO 63090.

Playground Sponsorship

The girls have chosen to sponsor the most expensive piece of the all abilities park — a rock climber. The climber is $15,000.

Sophie Straatmann said she is excited to see construction of the park taking shape.

“It makes me feel really good that we are doing this and we did it for this particular piece and not for multiple things,” she said.

Only $3,000 is needed to complete the sponsorship of the climber.

“When they raised so much last year, I couldn’t believe that (the climbing rock) was within reach — that they could get the most expensive piece on the playground,” said Julie Straatmann, Sophie’s mom. “It just shows that the sky is the limit for anyone.”

Julie Straatmann also expressed excitement about construction beginning on the park.

“It’s so nice to see some good thing happening,” she said. “I think the progress is going to be captivating when they see more than just dirt is moving around.”

She thanked the community for supporting the project and the girls’ event.

Jaycees president, Danielle Grotewiel, said she is “humbled” by the girls’ efforts and very proud of them.

“I am very impressed with their involvement and very excited they’re learning so young the great feeling you can get from doing something for the community,” she said. “They impress me every step of the way.”