Great American Bike Race helps local children

Stationary bike races raise money to help families with medical-related expenses.

By: Kay Todd . Jon Berg .

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The Sanford Health Foundation Great American Bike Race (GABR) is a fun and impactful way for people to raise money for local children. The stationary bike race began in the Bismarck-Mandan community in North Dakota in 1997 and has since become a tradition across the Sanford Health footprint.

The 2019 Bismarck event will take place April 27 at Legacy High School. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $3.5 million to support children and young adults in central and western North Dakota with cerebral palsy and other childhood-onset conditions that affect development.

GABR in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which started in 2016, will host its fourth race later this fall. In three years, the event has raised nearly $100,000 for Children’s Miracle Network at Sanford Children’s Sioux Falls.

The idea for GABR originated with Kevin Murphy, M.D., a pediatric rehabilitation medicine specialist at Gillette Children’s Specialty Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota, after traveling to Bismarck monthly to see pediatric therapy patients. He heard about a similar race in Canada known as the Great Canadian Bike Race and thought it would work in North Dakota.

That instinct was right. The first race had 10 bikes set up at Gateway Mall in Bismarck. Since then, the event has grown to be one of the largest of its kind in the United States with more than 100 bikes set up annually for the Bismarck GABR.

2019 information and registration

Registration is now open for GABR in Bismarck at gabr.sanfordhealth.org. The signup period for Sioux Falls will be announced on that website when details are confirmed.

Details of each race:

Bismarck GABR

  • When: April 27
  • Where: Legacy High School, 3400 E Calgary Ave., Bismarck
  • More details: Funds help families with expenses not covered by insurance including medical services and equipment for children and young adults with cerebral palsy and other childhood-onset conditions that affect development in central and western North Dakota.

Sioux Falls GABR

  • When: Fall 2019, exact date and time TBD
  • Where: Sanford Wellness Center, 8701 W 32nd St., Sioux Falls
  • More details: Funds help purchase specialized equipment, support important unbilled programs, and provide direct child and family assistance for expenses not covered by insurance through Children’s Miracle Network at Sanford Children’s Sioux Falls.

Relive the 22nd annual GABR in Bismarck

In 2018, 134 teams consisting of 1,522 bikers rode for a total of 8,061 miles and raised more than $420,000. One of those participants was Tina Miller, who rode for Bullseye’s Peddlers with her Target co-workers.

“The energy and the excitement of the teams and the passion behind it is really exciting,” Miller said. “We at Target have had multiple team members who’ve been affected by it or who have been supported by it and so this is just a great way for us to give back.”

Some of the pediatric therapists who work with the kids benefiting from the race also got involved. The Sanford Pediatric therapies team has returned each year since the race began.

“I work with the children that the funds directly go towards, and, if they can live their life with a disability, then I can ride for 20 minutes and work my little butt off,” said Rhiannon Salwei, a physical therapist at Sanford Bismarck.

Many of the families who have benefited from the mission of GABR have given back by participating in the annual event.

“My niece, Miss Libby, has gotten a couple different pieces of equipment that have helped her live a little more exciting, normal life,” said Nicole Morrison, a biker for Riding with Miss Libby. Her niece was born with schizencephaly, a birth defect that affects development.

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