Eight years ago, The Harold Robinson Foundation (HRF) decided to create an event that would help less fortuned children to get a piece of what many others may take for granted; a piece of nature. And so they did, eventually creating Pedal on the Pier.
One of the founders of HRF, Davis Moss, was inspired by a friend in New York that had created a foundation to help inner city kids go to community college. Through a hundred-mile bike ride, from Manhattan to the Hamptons, he raised a lot of money.
Moss and HRF wanted to try the same thing on the West Coast so they gathered around 40 bikers and then rode a 1000 miles- from Watts to Oxnard and then back to Malibu. The ride raised $100,000 dollars.
Moss’s friend later created “Pedal on the Park,” putting spinning bikes in Central Park instead of going out in real traffic, but the goal was still the same.
“We thought it was an incredible idea, and he said that he would help us get it organized the first year,” said Michelle Brookman, Event Chair for Pedal on the Pier. “He told us to find the Central Park of the West Coast, we chose the Santa Monica Pier, and we did it.”
The foundation itself first came to life because Jeff Robinson, one of the founders of HRF, and Davis Moss’ brother, Gerald Moss, own a camp called Canyon Creek in the Angeles National Forest where families can come during summers.
“We all went to camp when we were kids, and we all know the impact and the power that camp has. The memories are very vivid like they happened yesterday, and friendships still exist from people we met at camp. We all just wanted to bring kids that could never afford it up to camp. We weren’t really sure how to do that, and we weren’t sure what the model was going to look like,” Moss said.
Another friend heard about the idea and wanted to help. He offered to pay for the whole 6th and 7th grade from The Watts Learning Center so that they would be able to come to Canyon Creek.
“He paid for it, not us, and we ran the program, and it was during that weekend the lightbulb went off in my head, and I was like ‘this is the model, this is the model.’ All we have to do is to go to South LA, Watts, and find schools and bring the schools up so we can raise money, and we can then go target schools and do just what he did and pay for it, and that’s really how it started,” Moss said.
The idea grew eventually forming the foundation that is active today.
On June 3, Pedal on the Pier returns and the founders are aiming double last year’s total. Moss is hoping to reach the $2 million-dollar mark, but to ensure that they don’t have to cut any programming for next year they need to at least raise $1.5 million.
Registration to be a rider has already closed and each bike needs to raise $2,500 before June 3. Anyone can donate and be a part of the event on June 3. Spectators can watch the riders and experience other activities by purchasing a ticket on Pedal on the Pier’s website (https://pedalonthepier.haroldrobinsonfoundation.org).
“The tickets will go for $100 dollars, and for that people will get food and drinks. One of our sponsors is actually Tito’s handmade vodka. We’ll have a concert with DJ’s from Iheart Media who also is a sponsor this year, and there’s going to be a special live performance from DJ Mustard, so it’s a pretty good deal,” Brookman said.
One of the participants is Michelle McMillian Greene who learned about the event through Brookman and donated to her team the first year. The year after she decided to join Brookman’s team.
“I was a little intimidated about having to raise $500 but she told me not to worry and just do my best. I raised about $700. The following year a lot of people had told me that they wanted to do it too. Michelle suggested I have my own team and it was really fun to get friends involved and motivate them to raise money,” said Greene. “It’s easy to get caught up in just making a living and your own small life. It feels wonderful to be part of a larger community, doing something meaningful, in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
Participants said it’s a fun event for everyone involved.
“Even if you don’t ride one of the bikes yourself you should come and hang out and take part of the music and the food and the drinks. We are super proud of all of our sponsors like Revolution Fitness where our spinning instructors at the event are from, and also Stages Cycling who are lending us all of the bikes,” said Moss.
Revolution Fitness instructor Lisa Brisse has been a part of the event for six years.
“And I was thrilled to death when they told me, a couple months ago, that Revolution had been picked to be the studio that leads the event this year. But I am still going to have my own fundraising team as well. So I’m beyond excited,” said Brisse.
Other sponsors include WOWMI, Taos Footwear, Tribees and also CTO Consulting, who made the official Pedal on the Pier website.
Later this summer the Harold Robinson Foundation is also organizing a summer camp for kids in Watts that are in the 6th, 7th and 8th grade. The program starts on June 18 and the kids will be able to enjoy different activities involving, for example, music, art and sports, for six weeks straight.
The goal for Moss and the others is to create a year-round program in the community, so the children have somewhere to be and something to do after school and during weekends.
“We have had music artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers coming out, and also The Lakers, and The Dodgers. So the kids are able to take music lessons and we have had famous artists coming as well, like Retna that makes murals with the kids. And we take them on field trips. So we are really looking forward to get this to a year round program, which is why we need to raise two million dollar,” Moss said.
Pedal on the Pier will be held Sunday, June 3. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Ride begins at 11 a.m.