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8-mile bicycle ride salutes Juneteenth, aids Boys & Girls Club program

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Saturday’s Biketeenth bicycle ride was set up as a health initiative that aims to unify Hoosiers and commemorate Juneteenth.

Cassie Smith-Johnson and Antwan Mack are the co-founders.

Smith-Johnson said Tuesday, “Our young men and women are obese … heart failure, kidney issues. You’ll see dialysis centers popping up everywhere right now, especially in the Black community. So, we just really want to push health on our community … you know, white, Black, everyone right now.”

Observed on June 19, Juneteenth marks the emancipation or freedom of the last African-American slaves in the United States on Jan. 1, 1863. But, that message didn’t reach enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, until June 19, 1865.

Mack said, “I kind of just did my research and I saw the importance of it. I feel like there’s a lot of Blacks that need to learn more about it. But, as I started to do my research, I wanted to raise awareness on what it actually is and how important it should be to our kids to actually know about it also.”

So, they organized the leisurely bike ride through Indianapolis. It will start downtown along North Delaware Street at Central Christian Church, 701 N. Delaware St. The ride will wind 8 miles through parts of city streets and parts of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

“It’s a little over an hour, a little over 8 miles, but I think everybody’s going to enjoy it.” Mack said.

Last year, which was the first year, Biketeenth saw almost 300 riders. This year, they hope for more. “I really hope they just get a real sense of unity,” Smith-Johnson said.

Registration for bicyclist is $25. The event also is accepting donations. Some of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Indianapolis Global Prep Academy at the Riverside 44 School.

Candace Pate, the director of development and marketing for the Boys & Girls Club of Indianapolis, said, “We want to make sure we’re exposing our kids to opportunity. A lot of the kids don’t leave outside that neighborhood to do different events or do community activities. So, we’re trying to bring resources in as far as activities for the kids to do as well as take them on field trips so they’re exposed to different things.”

Biketeenth will run from noon- 3 p.m. Saturday. Go to this webpage to sign up or to learn more. Online registration will close at 10 a.m. Friday. Same-day registration will be from 11 a.m.-noon at Central Christian Church.

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