Award honors 12 Hours of Mesa Verde

Bike race raised $50,000 for local kids

Dani Gregory, race director of 12 Hours of Mesa Verde, presents Rose Jergens, executive director of the Four Corners Children Advocacy Center, with $18,000. Jergens' organization honored 12 Hours of Mesa Verde as the Champion for Children this year. Enlargephoto

Mary Shinn/The Cortez Journal

Dani Gregory, race director of 12 Hours of Mesa Verde, presents Rose Jergens, executive director of the Four Corners Children Advocacy Center, with $18,000. Jergens' organization honored 12 Hours of Mesa Verde as the Champion for Children this year.

The annual 12 Hours of Mesa Verde bike race was honored with the 2014 Champion for Children award Friday evening at Let It Grow.

"We want to thank them so much for what they do for kids. They touch a lot of kids ," said Rose Jergens, the executive director of the Four Corners Child Advocacy Center. This is the fifth year that her organization has awarded the honor and the 12th year of the fundraiser.

"It all starting as the idea: "How can we raise a little bit of extra money for the kids in our community?" said Race Director Dani Gregory.

This year, the bike race raised $50,000 for local children and took the opportunity to award the grants to local organizations on Friday.

Piņon Project and the Child Advocacy Center received $18,000 this year. The School Community Youth Collaboration received $4,000, Southwest Open School received $8,500, and the organization gave away a few smaller awards as well.

Jergens said the additional funding from 12 Hours of Mesa Verde last year allowed the center to provide therapy to 89 children from September through June.

Before receiving support, the center was piece-mealing the money together.

"It's really hard for us to get mental-health money," Jergens said. Most of the money goes to Cortez Integrated Healthcare. But it is important to have alternatives for children who are victims and their families so they don't have to worry about running into former abusers at the clinic, she said.

Piņon said the funding they received last year helped to increase funding for one-on-one mentoring and group mentoring during summer school at Kemper Elementary, said representatives from the Piņon Project.

Gregory attributed much of the events success to members of the community being willing to volunteer and the generosity of the riders. The event attracted 857 racers and raised $6,500 more than it did last year.

Gregory, who has been with the race since the beginning 12 years ago, will be leaving the board this year to spend time with her new baby.

"I'll be back, I'm sure," she said.