Mitch Hintz, captain of Mitch's Mighty Dickinson Riders Team One, has a goal of raising the most money for the eighth straight year in the annual Sanford Health Great American Bike Race in Bismarck.
Last year, 106 teams raised more than $340,000 to help children and young adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities and their families purchase adaptive equipment and services.
Mitch's Team One of 12 riders raised $19,000 of the total amount. He has a second team of riders with his mother, Donalda Hintz, as captain, and a third team with Ken Stockert as captain. The two teams raised a total of $5,000 last year.
Cerebral palsy covers a broad span of disabilities. The condition is characterized by a lack of muscle control and may affect arm and leg movements, speech, hearing, vision and learning.
It's uncertain if Mitch's Mighty Riders will reach the highest amount this year, but Mitch isn't too concerned about coming in second place.
"That means, they're working harder than we are," he said.
This year's competition starts at 8:45 a.m. CST on Saturday, April 13, at Century High School. The participants rotate riding 20 minutes on a stationary bike throughout the day.
Mitch, son of Mike and Donalda Hintz, has been the beneficiary of GABR funds in previous years.
"It's important to raise money for kids who have cerebral palsy," he said.
Brad Fong, president of Parkway Ford, is riding for a third year with Team One.
"I can definitely see the local benefits," Fong said. "Mitch's dad works for Parkway and I've seen how the Great American Bike Race helps out the family. It's particularly fun to hear Mitch tell his friends how his dad's boss rides on his team."
Fong may not log as many miles as his teammates, but said he's good at fundraising.
"That's the most important thing -- we trade favors and I'm able to help a little bit with the fundraiser," Fong said. "Mitch is so appreciative of what we do and it's something I want to be a part of."
Hintz graduated from Dickinson High School and works part time for ABLE and Community Action. He looks forward to the bike race each year.
"It helps pay for equipment that insurance denies," Donalda Hintz said. "Mitch needs the equipment to succeed in life and that's where the Great American Bike Race steps in. The fun part is riding in the competition -- it's hilarious as the teams try to ride the most miles."
Melanie Carvel and Beth Thune are co-directors of the Sanford Women's Health Center, which organizes the race.
"The race brings back repeat riders with such a spirit of enthusiasm and joy," Carvel said. "It's really a great example of paying it forward."
Families who benefit from funds, turn around to help others, she said.
"Mitch is just incredible -- he single-handedly raises more money than any person who is involved," she said. "He's a real gift to the race."
This year's GABR Stars are Cole Fleck, a seventh-grader from Bismarck, and Kenley Schneider, a third-grader from Dickinson. They promote the race, make media appearances and cheer on their teams.
Schneider, who attends Lincoln Elementary School, was born with cerebral palsy. Her parents are Melissa and Clint Schneider and her team is Kenley's Krew.
The team continues to raise funds, and Lincoln is holding a Hat Day for her.
Kenley Schneider described a GABR Star as an ambassador.
"Each year they take two people to promote the bike race," she said. "I cheer them on."
Funding has helped with Kenley's travel expenses for orthopedic surgeries in St. Paul, Minn., or expenses that medical insurance doesn't cover. GABR also purchased an adaptive bike that she looks forward to riding this spring.
"It's like a holiday," Melissa Schneider said. "It's a yearly event at our house."
To learn more about GABR, apply for funds or donate, visit bismarck.sandfordhealh.org/gabr or call the Women's Health Center at 701-323-6376.