Kiwanis bike Challenge aids children’s charities

Larry Amoroso, of Huntington, was among the 70-plus riders to take part in the Nassau County Bicycle Challenge, a children’s charity event hosted by the North Shore Kiwanis Club on Sunday. // Photo by Scott Brinton/Long Island Advocate

By Scott Brinton

2015 was the last time Eddie Giron rode the Nassau Bicycle Challenge, which winds through a string of waterfront and forested neighborhoods in Sea Cliff, Glen Cove, Bayville, Oyster Bay, Locust Valley and Glen Head. He was new to cycling and feeling anxious at the time.

“It was nerve-racking because I had never ridden before, but it was great, aside from the [two] giant hills that you’ve got to do,” said Giron, 48, of Holtsville.

Giron returned to the Challenge for the first time in nine years on Sunday, one of 70-plus riders to take part in the event, a North Shore Kiwanis Club fundraiser for children’s charities. 

The Challenge “supports the children’s charities that we’re focusing on,” said Club President Roger Hill, of Glen Cove. “Kiwanis is an international organization that’s for supporting children, each community on its own.”

The ride, he noted, “helps us bring the community together…for those children in need.”

Videography by Scott Brinton/Long Island Advocate

The North Shore Kiwanis is a chapter of Kiwanis International. Among the charitable endeavors that this local club supports through the Challenge are Klothes for Kids, for which Kiwanians take children in need to J.C. Penny to shop for clothes, and Kicks 4 Kids, which provides new tennis shoes for children. As well, the event supports the Kiwanis’s many food drives.

Leslie Kle, of Glen Cove, a North Shore Kiwanis Club board member and organizer of this year’s Challenge, said, “Most of the riders understand that they are contributing toward the community and helping the community.” 

Canva graphic by Scott Brinton/Long Island Advocate

The Challenge is the North Shore Kiwanis Club’s second largest annual fundraiser after the Sea Cliff Mini Mart, an arts and crafts exposition held the first Sunday of October. Some 30 volunteers make the ride happen. Since 1996, the Challenge has raised more than $290,000 for charity.

Eleanor Rapelje and Barbara Black were among the roughly 30 volunteers who handed out food and water to riders and handled ride logistics. // Photo by Scott Brinton/Long Island Advocate

Dan Conroy, 56, of New Hyde Park, said, “I just like to bike, and [the Challenge] is for a good cause. I bike every Sunday anyway, so why not do it for children’s charity? It’s a lot of fun, so long as it doesn’t rain.”

The Challenge marked its 28th year in 2024. For its first quarter century, it was known as the Nassau to Suffolk Bicycle Challenge, but since 2022 has been simply called the Nassau Bicycle Challenge.

Tom DeStio, whose son was born prematurely with multiple health issues, began the Challenge in 1996 as a way to do good for children and to honor the Kiwanis Club, as his son was cared for in the critical care unit at the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Center at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Queens.

There are two routes to the Challenge: a 35-miler and a 25-miler. This reporter rode the longer one on Sunday to cover this story. Aside from the relatively flat riding along the coast through Bayville and Oyster Bay, the terrain is best described as up and down.

The biggest challenges were the two long hills to which Giron referred, but the beauty of the North Shore landscape made one readily forget about the difficult climbs. Best of all, there were few cars, which I was not accustomed to biking on the South Shore, where I live in Merrick. No doubt, I plan to return to the Challenge in the coming years.

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John Mooney of Astoria, Queens, Chris Edelstein of Shoreham, Nick Smith of Malverne, and Chip Rennison of Mastic celebrated after their ride. // Photo by Scott Brinton/Long Island Advocate