December 2, 2021

Ride for Rotary benefits history center, C4Arts

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Motorcyclists park their bikes Saturday after returning to the CNY Living History Center after the Ride for Rotary trip around Cortland County.

Engines revved, and hot dogs sizzled as runners stretched.

Nearly 100 people — and one pooch — participated in the Cortland Breakfast Rotary Club’s 19th annual Ride for Rotary fundraiser.

This year, the event benefited the CNY Living History Center and the Center for the Arts of Homer. In addition to a $25 registration fee for each motorcyclist and 5K participant, 40 community organizations and businesses donated $300 to the cause, said organizer Don Richards.

A couple of Cortland County Sheriff’s Office employees took part in the 5K, joined by an excitable canine. Officer Neena Testa, her 1-year-old Doberman named Walter, and her colleague Stacey Billings, spent the Saturday morning running to support the centers.

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Stacey Billings, right, chats with another runner Saturday before the start of the Ride for Rotary 5K run with Walter, a 1-year-old Doberman owned by Neena Testa. Billings and Testa working with the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office.

“We got an email with a flier for it, and these lovely people that own the Living History Museum have let the Sheriff’s Office and other departments use it to do training,” Billings, a sergeant investigator, said. “Other than that, we’re just here as participants, out here to support the good cause.”

“We had a great turnout and we’re looking forward to supporting these two organizations,” Richards said. “Certainly during the COVID times, especially when their funding is down, it’s nice to be able to help support them.”

“It’s really important for the community to have the Living History Center and the Center for the Arts in our community,” Richards said. “It’s a huge draw, I mean, people come here from all over the country and even all over the world. It’s so nice to have them here.”

Both organizations have offered their facilities to the Rotary for meetings in the past, and Saturday’s event invited more club members and residents to visit the CNY Living History Center free of charge.

“It’s a really good opportunity to work with other businesses,” said Cindy Stoker, executive director of the history center. “They took two community-based art and entertainment venues that have been shut down because of the pandemic, and are trying to help them recoup some of their lost revenues. So it’s been a win-win all the way around.”

Jim Hopkins, board member for the Center for the Arts of Homer, said the Rotary Club has helped to expand involvement for both centers.

“It was a great idea that Don had to do this fundraiser, it’s helped all three organizations grow during some pretty tough times,” Hopkins said. “Participants came from all over the place, and that really gave all three organizations some exposure. Plus, just a great day to get out and ride a motorcycle or out for a walk.”

The Center for the Arts will use the money to start replacing the building’s heating system, and add air conditioning and air purification, Hopkins said.

“This couldn’t come along at a better time, it’s going to support our really vital attempt to modernize our facility so it can be a year-round, comfortable facility for the city,” he said.