Pictured: Rodney Freeman, WHA LA/Bank of America, and his wife Beth at the finish line of the Tour de Summer Camps 

A couple of years ago while cycling down the coast of California, I thought of creating a cycling event for our community to help send every child that wants to experience Jewish Summer Camp, to do so regardless of their family’s financial capabilities. Jewish camping has proven to me to be by far the most important experience for Jewish continuity and Jewish Identity.  The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles agreed to take the bold chance with me on this endeavor and supported my vision to create the premier cycling event.  To be successful we needed to break new ground to unify the community.  We successfully engaged all nine summer camps in the Los Angeles region and a cross section of support from dozens of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox synagogues.

On Sunday, October 27th, we held the first annual “Tour de Summer Camps”.  The event took place at Camp Alonim/Brandeis Bardin Campus of the American Jewish University.  We had over 475 registered riders and raised more than $600,000.  Both exceeded our projected goals.  We had riders at all levels offering rides of 18, 36, 62 (metric century) and 100 miles (century).  We offered amazing fundraising awards for various levels of achievement, including Adidas bags, logo tee shirts, custom-designed cycling jerseys and more.  We received over 2,500 individual on-line donations through our website www.tourdesummercamps.org and secured many incredible sponsors. There were numerous Wexner Alumni who participated, including the “Wheel Women” of Beverly Hills Riders. Details of the ride can be seen on the website and also on our facebook page, and you can still donate through November 15, 2013.

My dream is that this becomes an annual event that raises in excess of 1 million a year so every child can be afforded the magical experience of Jewish Summer Camping.  If you are doing something similar in your community, let’s share ideas.

Ride on!

Rodney Freeman, a Wexner Heritage Alum from LA/Bank of America, is the founder of Freeman Group, Inc., a construction management and consulting firm whose projects have included the Jewish Federation’s Headquarters-6505, City of Hope Medical Center, UCLA Hillel, and the Wallis Annenberg Performing Arts Center of Beverly Hills. Rodney volunteers communally as the Co-Founder and Founding Chairman of the Moriah Society at American Jewish University (AJU), the Chairman of the Board & Discovery Award Recipient, The Zimmer Children’s Museum, and Chairs several building committees such as the AJU, City of Hope, Otis College of Art and Design and the Breed Street Shul. He also serves on the Board of the Gilbert Foundation.  Rodney can be reached at rfreeman@freemangroup.net.