COBYS Bike & Hike celebrates 20 years of helping children

By on August 31, 2016
COBYS Bike & Hike features activities for all ages and skill levels. (Photos provided by COBYS)

COBYS Bike & Hike features activities for all ages and skill levels. (Photos provided by COBYS)


People have been walking, riding, and giving to support the ministries of COBYS Family Services through Bike & Hike, the organization’s signature fundraiser, for two decades now.

COBYS’ — short for Church of the Brethren Youth Services — 20th annual Bike & Hike will be held Sunday afternoon, Sept. 11, at the Lititz Church of the Brethren, 300 W. Orange St.

The event includes a three-mile walk, 10- and 25-mile bicycle rides, and the 65-mile Dutch Country Motorcycle Ride, which this year will travel across the Susquehanna into York County. A silent auction runs throughout the afternoon.

On the day of the event, motorcycle registration begins at 12:45 p.m., and the ride departs at 1:30 p.m. Walk and bicycle ride registration begins at 1:31 p.m. The 25-mile bike ride departs at 2 p.m., and the walk and 10-mile bike ride depart at 2:30 p.m. A WJTL radio personality will provide live reports from the event

Motivated by Christian faith, COBYS educates, supports, and empowers children and adults to reach their full potential. COBYS carries out this mission through foster care and adoption services, counseling, and family life education. Bike & Hike proceeds support these ministries.

“The Bike & Hike is our signature event, and this is our 20th annual, so we are anticipating a big year,” said COBYS director of development, Don Fitzkee. “Over the past two decades, COBYS supporters have given more than $1.1 million to support our programs and services to children and families through this event.”

The event has matured over the years.

“The first COBYS Bike & Hike was held in fall 1997,” said Fitzkee. “Prior to that, COBYS hosted three walks in Ephrata, Palmyra, and Harleysville. The Harleysville event continues each spring as the Family Fun Walk at Peter Becker Community. The other two walks were combined in 1997, bicycle and motorcycle rides were added, the event was moved to Lititz, and rebranded as the Roll & Stroll. Except for the name, which later was changed to Bike & Hike, it turned out to be a winning combination.”

As the event grew, so did its profits. In 1997, the efforts raised $16,100. Last year, COBYS raised $118,751.

“In our 20th year we are seeking to raise $120,000, or more, and reverse a two-year decline in attendance,” says Fitzkee. “We are off to a great start with record business support already in place. Now we are looking for walkers, riders, and givers.”

Walkers and bicyclists donate a $25 registration fee, obtain support from sponsors, or both. Motorcycles are $35 per cycle, plus $25 for an additional passenger. Those who pre-register by Sept. 6 receive a $5 discount. Individuals who raise $25 or more in pledges do not need to pay the registration fee. Last year nearly 500 people participated.

There are shining starts among those who have raised funds for Bike & Hike.

“Our top fundraisers through the years have all been walkers,” said Fitzkee. “Last year Mari Cunningham raised $10,665, which was more than $4,000 higher than anyone ever had done before. Along with Mari, our perennial top fundraisers are Londa Brandt and Floy Fitzkee (Don Fitzkee’s mother), both of Manheim. Lucy de Perrot is another person who has been a top fundraiser in recent years”


Traditionally, the biggest fundraisers for COBYS’ Bike & Hike have been the walkers.

Traditionally, the biggest fundraisers for COBYS’ Bike & Hike have been the walkers.


Each participant receives a free t-shirt, ice cream and refreshments, and a chance to win a door prize. The day wraps up with a celebration at 4:15 p.m.

“Ice cream has always been a key component of the Bike & Hike,” explained Fitzkee. “The event is timed so that the walk and rides end at about the same time so everyone can come together and enjoy ice cream sundaes, fellowship, and the opportunity to win a door prize. In the early years we served homemade ice cream, but more recently Turkey Hill has graciously donated the ice cream.

Organizing such a large fundraiser requires a lot of volunteers. The Bike & Hike is planned by Director of Development Don Fitzkee; Development Associate Nicole Hurst; and volunteers Pam Gerberich, Myerstown; Jeremy Jones, Ephrata; Ray Kline, Lititz; and Ken Rutt, Drumore.

“More than 50 volunteers help staff the event,” said Fitzkee. “Lititz Borough Police are always a tremendous help with traffic control for our motorcycle ride. We also are grateful for police and fire police from multiple municipalities who help our motorcyclists stay safe and together along their 65-mile journey.”

For information and sponsor sheets, contact Don Fitzkee at 800-452-6517 or Brochures, sponsor sheets, and cue sheets are available online at

Those unable to walk or ride are encouraged to stop in for the silent auction, or send a donation earmarked for the event, to COBYS Family Services, 1417 Oregon Road, Leola, PA 17540.

“Generous business support has been one key to the continued growth of the Bike & Hike,” said Fitzkee. “This year 24 business sponsors gave cash gifts of nearly $28,500. All told, some 90 businesses are expected to support with donations of cash, prizes, and auction items.”

Donations of door prizes and auction items will be welcomed until the week of the event. To arrange pick up for a silent auction or door prize donation, contact Development Associate Nicole Hurst at 656-6580 or


Bicyclists can choose from 10- or 25-mile course.

Bicyclists can choose from 10- or 25-mile course.

The motorcycle ride is 65 miles long and crosses into York County this year.

The motorcycle ride is 65 miles long and crosses into York County this year.

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