Lorie’s Lakeside Century is a Midwest bike ride that has been raising money for local charities for 27 years. Over the last six years, that focus has been on raising funds for the Visiting Nurse Association and the programs and services they provide.
Jim Spanopoulos founded Lorie's Lakeside Century after losing his first wife to breast cancer. In the years after, he and a group of people would frequently go on rides together. One of the women in their party was Lorie, a VNA nurse who helped his late wife while she was sick. When Lorie too passed away, the organized ride was given her name in tribute.
“We never wanted to forget her,” Spanopoulos explained. It meant a lot to him to see so many people join their fundraiser. “The best word for it is thankful. They’re all coming out here to honor her.”
In Lorie’s name, cyclists from as far as Missouri rode on September 17th to raise money for the VNA. They will benefit programs like hospice, support groups, and Meals on Wheels.
“It’s a great cause,” was the unanimous opinion of the cyclist group Joyriders. “We’re a group that likes to ride. [Lorie] was a giving nurse, and this is our way of giving back to the community.”
The Lemmings drove from St. Louis to be a part of the cause. They brought 17 cyclists as part of their 15 year old group.
“We like to find a new ride every year,” said Jolene Jollmer, member of The Lemmings. “It was a new area, and the lake really appealed to us.”
They found out about the ride online. Lorie’s Lakeside Century was chosen as one of Outdoor Online Magazine’s nine centuries to master in the United States.
“We were really proud of that,” said VNA President Maria Galka. “There are a lot of centuries in Indiana, and in the Midwest. We think we’re pretty unique.”
The five different routes wind through hoosier farmland and prairies, are shaded by the occasional forest, and take cyclists through iconic duneland. Rest stops show off community spots like Firefly Horse Farm and the Indiana lakeshore.
“It’s a great, easy ride,” said DeWayne Ferris, a charter member of the Major Taylor Cycling Club of Chicago. He had been riding in the Lakeside Century since its inception, and introduced it to the rest of his group five years ago. Their mission is to promote wellness and cycling in Northwest Indiana and South Chicago. “The roads are phenomenal. They have great sag stops, and great volunteers.”
Lorie’s Lakeside Century and the VNA have a reputation for providing delicious snacks and hosting amazing volunteers. They had people handing out t-shirts, serving beverages, and making breakfast.
Matt Naillieux’s family volunteers in the kitchen because they know they can make a difference.
“Our father was on hospice so we know what [the VNA] does. It’s a great program that everyone should have access too. This is our part. This is something we can do to give back to the organization,” he explained.
Lorie’s Lakeside Century was for cyclists of all types. Families could take the 26 or 39 mile courses while more advanced riders took on the 100-mile, two-state challenge. No matter which route they chose, they were helping a good cause.
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