Sanctuary Ride: Going the Extra (500) Miles to End Gender Violence

An interview with the organizer of Sanctuary Ride, a 5 day, 500 miles ride from Manhattan to Niagara Falls that raises fund to help survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking and related forms of gender violence.

Ashley Tsai and Nelson Lin are the organizers of Sanctuary Ride, a 500 mile bike ride from Central Park to Niagara Falls, the proceeds of which go to benefit our work to end domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender-based violence.

We sat down with Ashley to learn more about her passion for cycling and Sanctuary for Families.

How did you first become interested in long distance cycling for charity? 

Ashley & Nelson, organizers of Sanctuary Ride

Nelson has been a cycling enthusiast ever since he got bitten by the bug many years ago doing his first ever charity ride in Sydney, Australia. Nelson did not even have his own bike, and did the 51 mile course on a woman’s hybrid. He even had to borrow a friend’s helmet. He has been hooked ever since – to the self-discipline, the training leading up to the event, and the sense of achievement at enduring for a worthy cause. Nelson has participated in multi-day charity bike events in Australia, Europe, and US ever since.

I am not really a cyclist but I share Nelson’s passion for charity. So I started volunteering as a support crew for these events. It feels great to be part of these amazing rides together as husband-and-wife and we have made many life-long friends along the way.

How did you find Sanctuary?

We moved from Sydney to New York four years ago, and I started volunteering at Sanctuary for Families. It is a really special place. The work Sanctuary is doing for victims of gender violence really made an impression on me, and I was especially impressed by the Economic Empowerment Program. Through volunteering I met John Wyeth, Sanctuary’s Director of Institutional Giving, and found out that he is also a cyclist. I introduced Nelson to him and the two became riding buddies and often ride together on weekends.

How did you come up with the idea to organize Sanctuary Ride?  

The thought of doing something to help Sanctuary to raise awareness and break the cycle of gender violence had always been on our minds, and two years ago we thought it would be a good idea to combine our passions together and organize a charity bike ride for the cause. We spoke to a few like-minded friends, including John, and the Sanctuary Ride was born! We want the event to reflect the geographic base of Sanctuary – hence the route from New York City to Niagara Falls through the beautiful back roads of New York State.

What keeps you motivated during that long bike ride? 

It is a tough ride, 500 miles in 5 days, with an elevation gain of 23,000 feet.  However, in our mind, this is a small price to pay to support survivors of gender violence. I love that we are a group of like-minded people who believe in Sanctuary’s mission, and that we are not alone on this journey.

Last year we spoke to many people on the road about Sanctuary for Families, and were lucky enough to spread the words through NPR and Buffalo NBC news. It was an amazing five days even though we had to deal with a heat wave, leg cramps, bike issues, saddle sores, and scary descents going into Ithaca!

 

Sanctuary Ride 2018

Both Nelson and I are super excited about this year’s Sanctuary Ride.  We have eight wonderful riders and three support crew members from all backgrounds and different parts of the world, and we all share the same passion. I look forward to “rolling” nice and early on August 28th from Central Park, raising awareness of Sanctuary, and making unforgettable memories!

What is your favorite part of Sanctuary Ride?

It is the comradeship of a group of very different people coming together for one goal.  I love that most people who participate in the event (both last year and this year) have actually never ridden 500 miles back to back.  The riders have to train hard for not only the cause of raising awareness of gender violence, but also to achieve personal challenges.  You can’t help but feel great to be part of this journey.

It is always a very emotional moment to arrive at Niagara Falls at the end of the 5 days.  However scenery-wise my personal favorite is the 4th day where we ride along the beautiful Erie Canal.

Are you accepting new members?

Registration for the 2019 Sanctuary Ride has closed – the ride overlaps with the Labor Day long weekend therefore we have to book all our accommodation far in advance – but we are already thinking about next year. We’d love to welcome any interested riders to consider joining us in 2020!

Can cyclists participate in the event and not ride the full five days to Niagara Falls?

Friends asked this question a lot!  We are considering having options for 1 day ride from New York to Poughkeepsie, as well as 1 day from Pittsford to Niagara Falls for Sanctuary Ride 2020 onwards.  You are welcomed to come cheer us on and see us off at 5:30am on 8/28 though!

What advice would you have for someone who is interested in doing the ride?

Good spirit and positive energy is always a good place to start!  Train hard and stay safe on the saddle.  Nelson organizes group trainings on weekends leading up to the ride so the team get a sense of riding as a group and how to look out for each other.

How can interested cyclists contact you?

Please visit our Facebook page www.facebook.com/SanctuaryRide and leave us a message!  We would love to have you in next year’s event.  Let’s ride together to help end gender violence!

Holiday Highlights 2017

Here are our favorite moments from our most successful holiday giving campaign to date.

Holidays can be a difficult time for many of our clients, who are often isolated from their friends, families, and communities. Donors and volunteers like you continue to provide a sense of hope and make the season brighter. Here are just a few of the ways we’ve seen that happen in the past few weeks:

1. When 146 of our highest-needs families (over 410 individuals) had their entire holiday wish lists fulfilled by incredibly generous donors – thank you for bringing joy to survivors of gender violence during this busy season.

2. Handing out thousands of  games, toys and gifts to 1,200 additional adults and children who receive services at Sanctuary.

3. Welcoming 125 amazing volunteers who wrapped, sorted and organized gifts – we couldn’t have reached so many clients without you!

4. Collecting over $30,000 in cash and gift card donations to distribute – empowering our clients to buy presents for themselves and their loved ones.

5. Celebrating the 25th Annual Horace Mann Winter Party where over 150 Sanctuary clients enjoyed a festive evening of food, student performances, and gifts for all.

6. Hanging out with the dedicated staff members who coordinate this massive movement of donations, gifts, and parties.

7. Connecting clients and donors through beautiful thank you notes.

8. Seeing how all of your efforts made the season brighter for our clients, who are taking the difficult steps to start a new life. Thank you!

Holiday Highlights 2016

Here are our favorite moments from our most successful holiday giving campaign to date.

The holidays can be a difficult time for many of our clients, particularly those who have left behind family and friends in their efforts to escape abuse. Donors and volunteers like you continue to provide a sense of hope and make the season brighter. Here are just a few of the ways we’ve seen that happen in the past few weeks:

1. When 143 of our highest-needs families (over 450 individuals) had their entire holiday wishlists fulfilled by incredibly generous donors – thank you for bringing joy to survivors of gender violence during this busy season.

2. Welcoming 125 amazing volunteers who wrapped, sorted and organized gifts – we couldn’t have reached so many clients without you!

3. Handing out thousands of additional games, toys and gifts to over 1,800 adults and children who receive services at Sanctuary.

4. Collecting $25,000 in gift cards to distribute – empowering our clients to buy presents for themselves and their loved ones and to share in a gift-giving experience they otherwise may not have been able to afford.

5. Throwing five fantastic parties thanks to Horace Mann School, Paul Lebrecque Salon, and other amazing donors and volunteers.

6. Hanging out with the amazing and dedicated staff members who coordinate this massive movement of donations, gifts and parties.

7. Connecting clients and donors through beautiful thank you notes.

8. Seeing how all of your efforts made the season brighter for our clients,who are taking the difficult steps to start a new life. Thank you!

These five volunteers are leaving their mark on Sanctuary

Find out how they’re making a difference.

Every year, over 2,000 volunteers make it possible for Sanctuary to provide life-saving service to survivors of gender violence throughout New York. On May 5th, we’ll honor five longtime volunteers and celebrate all of our incredible volunteer support at our annual Pillars of Change Volunteer Recognition.

RSVP to join us at this special event, and learn more about how our five honorees are making a difference at Sanctuary by clicking through the links below.

doreen 1000x1000Doreen Jackman: Seamstress, tailor, volunteer, friend.

Doreen keeps our Butterfly Boutique in shape.

 

 

joel-kurtzbergJoel Kurtzberg: 19 years of dedication.

Joel tutors to make a difference.

 

 

kate Kate Bieber Ogg: Volunteering to end gender violence.

Kate educates her family and community about Sanctuary’s work.

 

Anne-Cecile 1000x1000 Anne-Cecile Raphael: a multilingual, multi-talented volunteer.

Anne-Cecile volunteers her legal and language skills.

 

hilda Hilda Sanchez: a volunteer, and a part of the team.

Hilda helps Sanctuary Clinical Administration staff stay organized.