Fresh off losing out on a $33,000 grant for continued improvements at a Carpentersville park, a local mountain biking group is building on the exposure it received from the contest and planning a fundraiser that will also thank the community for its support.
In addition, Chicago Area Mountain Bike Riders (CAMBr) will reach out to the 6,000 people -- 5,000 from its database and 1,000 from a related bike promotion -- and ask them to donate $3 for ongoing work at Keith Andres Memorial Park. CAMBr is turning the park into a regional destination for mountain bikers and the work is expected to cost $250,000.
"We're literally going to just try and target $25,000," CAMBr President Mike Angus said Tuesday. "We might as well take the initiative and the momentum that we have right now and try to get as much funds raised for the park as possible."
Monday, Andres Park lost the grant in an online voting contest sponsored by Bell Helmets and the International Mountain Biking Association. The grant would have paid for a pump track, a looped, bermed and rolling dirt course that lets riders maintain momentum so they don't have to pedal.
The Andres Park project captured 11,424 votes over the course of two weeks, while a project near Minneapolis earned 12,322 votes.
The Fox Valley community rallied around the contest and promoted it through fliers, social media and word-of-mouth.
Former Carpentersville Trustee Brad McFeggan, one of the park's biggest advocates, would love it if the Andres voters donated $3 to CAMBr.
"It was just an idea and I know there's ways that you could probably do it, but I'm just a resident, I have no connections in this whole process," McFeggan said. "I wouldn't even know where to start."
The 25-acre park was named after Keith Andres, a 20-year-old Army veteran from Carpentersville killed in 1967 during the Vietnam War.
It was neglected for years until CAMBr, a nonprofit organization, approached the village in 2012 to fix it up.
Andres' sister, April Andres Asher, started the ball rolling by donating $500 to CAMBr. She was 9 when the park was dedicated to her brother and said it always meant a lot to her family.
"After the disappointment of not winning the grant, I decided that I had to do something, and the donation was the only way I could help make a difference," Asher said via Facebook. "This was my way of honoring Keith, and the other men who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam, while helping a new generation enjoy a beautiful park."
The fundraiser is scheduled 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 17 at Andres Park. At the event, organizers will also announce the winners of a raffle for two bikes at Main Street Bicycles. Those who voted for the Andres Park project online were entered to win one of two bikes from the shop.
To donate to the park, visit www.andrespark.org.