Written by Dan Santos
The idea for a unique American Red Cross fundraising event got rolling in 2014 at a neighborhood barbecue.
That’s when Diane Krehbiel and her husband Kevin Delson, both of whom were active bicyclists, met up with Ken Bauer, an American Red Cross board member at the time. The Westlake Village residents combined their interests to conceive what would become Ride for the Red, which raises funds for the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program.
“My vision was for Ride for the Red to be the Tour de France for the military across the U.S., with people on the sidelines cheering and saluting as the riders pass by,” Krehbiel said. “This is a fun ride for a great cause, and not a race.”
Through the SAF, the Red Cross helps members of the military, veterans, their families, and caregivers cope with the challenges of service.
Bauer said Krehbiel’s concept for the ride had great timing. “The local SAF budget was reduced in 2014. We needed to raise some funds for the program and I thought Diane’s idea was perfect.”
Susan Wolf, herself a former Red Cross board member, has been involved with the ride since the start and is the chief coordinator this year. The first ride started with about 70 riders in 2015 and returns this year after being postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Wolf is encouraged by the expected turnout for the November 13, 2021, event, which had 130 registered cyclists, ten days before the ride. “It’s an amazing gathering of cyclists,” she said. “It’s super fun, with spirited events and great volunteers who come and help. We’ve also had some great sponsors through the years. I hope we can continue this great event for many more years.”
“Susan has always been a core member,” Krehbiel said, “but this year she took over and it has been an amazing experience so far. We are at our countdown time and I cannot wait for the big day.”
Tony Briggs, CEO for the American Red Cross Central California Region, called the return of the ride “a win, win, win for all involved.”
“This gets us back to normal after the year of the pandemic,” Briggs said. “I’m excited about the folks who signed up to ride. I didn’t think we’d have as many riders as we’ve gotten so far after the year off.”
Briggs said he plans to drive to the ride’s rest stops to thank all the volunteers for their service and cheer on the riders.
Ride organizers emphasized their planning for the safety of all participants and volunteers.
All Covid-19 protocols will be observed. Food will be pre-packaged for breakfast before the ride starts and for lunch and snacks. There will be six supervised rest stops along the three different routes. American Red Cross volunteer nurses will be available to assist any riders, Krehbiel said.
Volunteers in vehicles will be following riders to assure their safety, Krehbiel and Delson said. Amateur ham radio operators along the three routes and rest stops will be updating the riders’ progress to volunteers at the start/finish line in Camarillo.
“The rest stops are pretty cool,” Delson said. “There’s plenty of stuff to do there. There’s the alpaca farm in Somis. Underwood Farms in Moorpark gives out produce to the riders. Lots of things for the riders to enjoy while they take a break.”
There will be three rides going through Ventura County: a Century (100 miles) starting at 6:30 a.m.; a Metric Century (65 miles) starting at 8:00 a.m.; and a Half Metric Century (30 miles) starting at 9:00 a.m. Each ride will start and end at the Red Cross headquarters at 836 Calle Plano, Camarillo. Riders should check in 30 minutes before the start of their ride.
Krehbiel and Delson both said they take pride in being part of something that helps the military.
“My father, David Krehbiel, is an Air Force veteran,” Diane Krehbiel said, “so of course the armed forces are important to me.”
Delson’s father served in the Army during World War II, and his mother became involved with a synagogue when they lived in Michigan to make sweaters and clothing to send to the troops overseas.
Both Bauer and Wolf have family members who served in the armed forces.
Briggs is also a veteran who served 24 years in the U.S. Navy, and has family members with military experience. “The ride brings the military and Red Cross experience full circle,” he said. “It’s important to look after active duty and veterans and their families and the Red Cross does a great job with that.”
Ride organizers also point out that 100 percent of the funds raised go to the SAF. “A lot of events like this hire some group or service to do all the work and a lot of the money goes there,” Krehbiel said. “We’re doing this with all volunteer workers and generous donations from local businesses. All the food, the DJ, and the music are donated.”
Wolf credited the work of the volunteers who are responsible for making this year’s ride happen, including Cris Hagen, Anne Fruehling, Dale Livingston, Kris Meathrell, and Susan Bauer. In addition, American Red Cross staff members on the Ride for the Red team are Anne Kratz, Shirley Byrne, Jennifer Samaritan, Christina Milstein, Taylor Poisall, Jim Inman, and Heather Lathem.
Wolf said volunteers are still needed for the event’s preparation and on the day of the ride.
The ride’s sponsors are: Bank of America, AeroVironment Aviation & Aerospace, Pacific Western Bank, WRiiG Business Technology Consulting, DKKD Staffing, DW Drums, Coldwell Banker/Rosemary Allison, Ventura County Credit Union, HomeLight Real Estate, Jimmy John’s Sandwiches, and Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty.
Donors of food, supplies and services are: Trader Joe’s, Starbucks, Amigo Rents, C & S Sales, DJ’s Catering, Hollywood Storage, Ordway Sign Supply, Sir Speedy, Augusta Financial, PIP, VFW, Jack in the Box, Vons, and Ralphs.
Sign up to ride – rideforthered.givesmart.com
Sign up to volunteer – bit.ly/ride4red
30-mile ride: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/37720526
65-mile ride: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/37697380
100-mile ride: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/37649624