Special Olympics named El Tour de Tucson sponsor

Published: Jun. 13, 2014 at 9:29 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 27, 2014 at 10:02 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The organization that runs El Tour de Tucson introduced the Special Olympics as the event's title sponsor and beneficiary for the next three years at a news conference today.

Perimeter's CEO, President and Founder Richard J. DeBernardis made the announcement with representatives of Tu Nidito Children & Family Services at a news conference hosted by Perimeter Bicycling Association of America, Inc. at the Casino del Sol Resort.

"We felt that they had more resources and can get us where we never thought we could ever be. I mean I imagine that El Tour de Tucson could become one of the three most popular bicycling events in the world, in the world of fundraising and health and bicycling," says El Tour Founder and Executive Director Richard DeBernardis.

The partnership with the Special Olympics is expected to increase global exposure to this charitable event, which already brings more than 8,000 cyclists from around the world every year.

In March, it was announced that Tu Nidito had been dropped as the primary beneficiary of the bicycling event.

Tu Nidito had been the main beneficiary of El Tour, a premiere bicycling event, since 1997.

The non-profit Perimeter Bicycling of America puts on El Tour de Tucson at an annual cost of about $1.8 million.

"El Tour would not be here this year if it wasn't for us to go out. They can lead us to big sponsors. We can't do that. We're small. I mean I think we've done exceptional with the resources that we have, but if we're going to grow and if we want to keep El Tour, it has to take this level, otherwise El Tour is going to phase out," says DeBernardis.

The board of directors made the decision to make a national non-profit organization with a local presence the main beneficiary this year.

DeBernardis said in the past that a national sponsor would bring more exposure.

"If we had a national organization as a primary beneficiary, they would bring us more exposure than we could ever get because they're national," DeBernardis said. "They have ties to national publications.

"They'll be bringing us national exposure, cyclists from all around - probably from around the world. And we are a national bike ride, but with a local presence. So for Perimeter to exist, that's our next step in our development is to find someone that will become a national partner with us to keep us going."

DeBernardis said El Tour has a $16 million to $20 million economic impact on the Tucson area and benefits dozens of charities.

"Organizations have a lot of special events to raise funds to support their mission. And we were fortunate enough to be introduced to El Tour which had an event that was already established with a tremendous amount of support in the community. And for us it made smart business sense to invest in that to help grow it," says Special Olympics International Chief Development Officer Kelli Seely.

"The economy of Tucson--they're going to benefit year-round now. I mean by going with Special Olympics and being promoted all over the world, people are going to come here. If they come here for El Tour, they're going to come here year-round," says DeBernardis.

DeBernardis says online registration for El Tour de Tucson will begin in mid-June.

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