Melissa Marotta and Barbara Hoots

Melissa Marotta's review of the event:

On Saturday, March 19, Barbara Hoots and I (along with Spinning Master Instructors; Angie Scott from Vermont and Anthony Musemici from NYC) had the honor of co-leading the 11th Annual Special Olympics Vermont's 6-Hour "Ride for a Reason." 75 riders packed the Champlain Valley Exposition Center and raised more than $18,000 for Special Olympics Vermont.

This was the third year that I've had the privilege of taking part in this special event, and this was by far my favorite year. The vibe in the room was fantastic, and we fed off that vibe all day long. Many of the event's participants were returning from years' past; 50% of the crowd, however, were riding their first-ever indoor Century. It was overwhelmingly rewarding to contribute in a small way to all of these individuals' experience of profound pride and strength.

Melissa and her fiancée Scott

Melissa and her fiancée Scott

We had live performances from local Vermont Brazillian drummer band Sambatucada, and DJ Craig Mitchell mixing live for the final two hours. It was an interesting challenge to improvise up there on stage, contrary to how much time and effort we all characteristically put into our profiles, but a pretty awesome one. The crowd loved the infusion of energy! Equally inspiring, if not more so, was the presence of Special Olympics athletes who spoke to participants, brought them snacks, and let everyone know just how meaningful the day's fundraising efforts were to them and their lives. We also presented a slideshow running in the background throughout the day with photos of Special Olympics athletes competing, along with motivational images and words.

"I never thought of myself as an athlete before today," said one participant, formerly a casual participant in indoor cycling classes who completed her first indoor Century. "This is probably the proudest day of my life. I feel like I can do anything I set my mind to, now."

Memories to Cherish from Barbara Hoots

There are some things you have to experience firsthand to know how truly amazing they are: childbirth, fourth-row seats at a U2 concert, and as I discovered on Saturday, March 19, being a part of Vermont”™s 6-hour Ride for a Reason. When Melissa invited me to take a seat on stage alongside her team of seasoned instructors, I gladly accepted, armed only with words of encouragement, a healthy dose of positivity and an awesome playlist.

I was prepared for the ride, but not the emotional experience that made an indelible impression on me. The real heroes on Saturday were the countless volunteers and Special Olympic athletes, not the coaches on stage or participants in the audience. Watching these brave young athletes walk in between rows of bikes, serving sliced oranges, apples, and the best homemade Cliff bars I”™ve ever tasted, was a moment time stood still and my eyes welled with tears of pure joy.

Melissa and her committee spent countless hours organizing this epic event, and it was evidenced by the ride”™s enormous success. Her  exuberance, passion, and never ending smile will be in my heart forever.

If you've never volunteered your studio or teaching talent for an organization such as Special Olympics, now's the time - it's an experience you'll never forget!


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