Girls Inc. of Jackson County is gearing up for its annual Gears for Girls bicycle ride fundraiser.

And this year, guys can participate, too.

The ride, now in its third year, will take place Sept. 12, but those who register before Aug. 21 will receive a discount and be guaranteed an event T-shirt.

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Sadie Gonzales, event chairwoman and Girls Inc. board member, said that by opening the ride up for boys and men to participate they hope to have more people sign up, especially families riding together, and raise more money.

“We want to make it a good, family-oriented community event,” she said. “There might be a lot of girls out there who would like to participate, but their moms can’t. This allows them to enter with their dad or brother, a grandpa or an uncle.”

Money raised from the ride will support Girls Inc. programming both at the Seymour club and outreach services provided to the schools.

Besides being a fundraiser, the ride also is a way to promote a healthy activity, she added.

Gonzales said the community needs more events to keep people in Seymour, and bike rides are a good attraction.

As a former Girls Inc. member, she said she also believes it’s important for people to support the organization.

“I feel like Girls Inc. is a really good cornerstone for this community because if you help and encourage these girls to be the best they can be, they become the best women they can be and help improve the community,” she said. “I want them to stay in the community, and you have to give them a reason to stay.”

Gears for Girls offers three rides — 6.5, 17 and 30 miles. The ride is not a race, and participants in the two longer rides can start anytime between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Those riding in the 6.5-mile ride will start together at 9 a.m. with a police escort.

All routes start at Girls Inc. and follow paths that go through scenic parts of Jackson County, including through Cortland on the 30-mile ride, with stops along the way for riders to rest and grab a drink and a snack.

Entry fees vary by the distance of the ride. The 30- and 17-mile rides are $25 before Aug. 21 or $35 up until the day of the event. The 6.5-mile ride is $15 for early registration or $20 afterward.

Girls Inc. members do not have to pay a registration fee if they sign up with a paying adult and will only have to pay $7 for a T-shirt.

All children younger than 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Gonzales said she hopes to see a couple of hundred riders sign up this year.

Anyone wanting to support Girls Inc. without participating in the ride can do so and receive a T-shirt by donating $25 before Aug. 21 or $35 after.

Seymour Kiwanis will serve a grab-and-go breakfast for riders at 8 a.m.

There also will be door prizes and free Orange Leaf frozen yogurt for participants back at Girls Inc. when they complete the ride.

Registration forms are available at Girls Inc. and girlsincjackson.org.

If you go

What: Gears for Girls third annual bike ride fundraiser

Where: Starts at Girls Inc. of Jackson County, 956 N. O’Brien St., Seymour

When: Sept. 12. Registration begins at 8 a.m., followed by a grab-and-go breakfast provided by Seymour Kiwanis. Rides begin between 8 and 8:30 a.m. with the shortest ride starting at 9 a.m.

Who: Open to anyone, including boys and men

Distances: 6.5-, 17- and 30-mile rides available

Cost: $25 for the 17- and 30-mile rides if paid before Aug. 21 and $35 afterward; $15 for the 6.5-mile ride if paid before Aug. 21 and $20 afterward

How to help: Those who want to support Girls Inc. but don’t want to participate in the ride can pay $25 before Aug. 21 or $35 afterward and receive an event T-shirt

Information: 812-522-2798, girlsincjackson.org, facebook.com/GearsForGirls

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.