Quick! Stop reading and find Izzy and Elliott Kopsky’s bike-a-thon fundraiser on Facebook immediately, because these small but seasoned cyclists are going to bike their hearts out for a great cause this weekend.
A few weeks ago, Izzy and Elliott Kopsky decided they wanted to do something to help during the COVID-19 crisis, and they were inspired by Captain Tom Moore, the nonagenarian who raised more than 30 million pounds for the British National Health Service by walking laps in his backyard with his walker. Elliott and Izzy’s version will be cranking mileage on their bikes for Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. “We thought we wanted to help people in our community like that guy,” said Izzy, 9, “so we decided to do a bike-a-thon.” Why cycling? Simple. “Because we’re really good at it, and we like it,” Elliott, 7, said.
Izzy and Elliott have been biking with their dad Bill Kopsky, executive director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, for years, and they’ve been training diligently for their big race on May 17 (or the first sunny day after that, if it rains). Both boys aim to set personal records during the bike-a-thon. Elliott’s goal is to ride 30 miles, and Izzy hopes to make it to 65 miles. Their personal records to date are 18 and 55 miles, so these boys are ready to go the extra miles for their cause. “I’m a little nervous,” said Izzy, “because I’ve only got close to that once. In training we’ve only gone 18 to 23 miles, and I need to go 65, so I’m a little nervous about that. But I think I can do it.”
The boys have already raised a remarkable $4,000 in flat donations and pledges of up to $8,000 if they meet their mileage goals. Donors can sponsor the boys per mile cycled or a flat donation, and all donations go to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance to help those most severely affected by the coronavirus crisis.
Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance works with nonprofits, state and federal agencies and other organizations to increase access to food across the state. “It’s an incredible amount of money,” said Kathy Webb, executive director of the organization. “I’ve had the privilege of knowing these kids since they were born and knowing their parents. I know that they’re bringing up their kids to understand that issues like this have an impact on all of us. And those of us who can do something have an obligation to do it.”
Webb said that the money the Kopskys and others raise can have a significant impact on the lives of those struggling with hunger, such as enabling the organization to make more help available to the Latinx community by hiring native Spanish speakers, or getting schools the equipment they need to provide meals for kids during the summer. “Every donation makes a difference,” she said. ”[$2,000] could make the difference in whether a school is able to continue serving, and that could be a thousand kids.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, hunger relief is needed now more than ever. “A lot of people are losing their jobs and aren’t getting enough food,” Elliott said. “We’re hoping the donations will help,” Izzy said.