Sponsored by the Chester/Lake Almanor Elks Lodge, Elks members are reaching out to the community for donations through the Randy Fossum Memorial “Wheel Around Lake Almanor” (WALA) bike ride, scheduled Sunday, Sept. 15. Photo by Stacy Fisher

“Wheel Around Lake Almanor” fundraiser

For the past 22 years, the annual Randy Fossum Memorial “Wheel Around Lake Almanor” (WALA) bike ride and dinner has raised funds for those who have sustained injuries or who are seriously ill in our community, said Elks member and WALA chairman Terry Parsons, Esquire.

Randy Fossum, a paraplegic handcyclist who has since passed away, is one of the originators of the WALA ride.

The dinner is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. inside the Lake Almanor Elks Lodge on Saturday, Sept. 14, followed the next day on Sunday, Sept. 15, with a 7 a.m. morning breakfast before bicyclists line up at 9 a.m. to start on the 34-mile endurance challenge around Lake Almanor, which includes a number of hand cyclists living with such conditions as paraplegia, quadriplegia, spinal bifida, cerebral palsy or loss of both legs.

As sponsors of the bike ride, Lake Almanor Elks Lodge members reach out to the community for donations “because they have a deep commitment to helping others,” said Parsons, especially those who rise to meet the challenge of riding a hand cycle around Lake Almanor.

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Parsons emphasized that the event is not a race, but rather just a fun and leisurely two-hour tour where riders could enjoy the lakeside scenery while raising funds for a worthy cause.

Volunteer groups, including Chester Community United Methodist Church, ARPD, Rotary Club of Chester and the Almanor West Shore Alliance staff rest stops along the route. Riders can take their time to quench their thirst, and to snack on nutritious food items to keep their energy levels up.

Bicyclists pay $34 in registration fees, which includes the spaghetti feast at the Elks Lodge building the night before the biking event.

Parsons explained that they ask for that particular amount because that’s one dollar for every mile around the lake. Handcyclists are not asked for donations however. After the ride, bicyclists are treated to lunch as well.

He said that when community members decide to donate to WALA, they know that their contributions will directly help those in need.

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For those wishing to contribute to this noble cause, write your tax-deductible donation to WALA and mail to the Lake Almanor Elks Lodge at P.O. Box 1329, Chester, 96020, or call Terry Parsons at 258-9447 for more information.

Also check out the WALA website at lakealmanorwala.com.