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Hike, Bike, Run canceled

VALLEY — One of the Valley area’s beloved traditions, the annual Hike/Bike/Run fundraiser for Valley Haven School, won’t be held this year. It has taken place every year since 1977 and for nearly 30 years in a row now the fundraising total has topped the $100,000 mark every year.

In making the announcement, Executive Director Craig Brown said that the public health threat being posed by the spread of the COVID-19 virus left little choice in the matter.

“The past several weeks have been extremely challenging for our organization and community,” he said in a news release. “At the forefront of our minds is the health and well being of the people we serve, our staff and the community as a whole. After careful consideration and prayer, the leadership of Valley Haven has made the decision to cancel this year’s Hike/Bike/Rum fundraiser and all other events associated with it.”

Brown said that it had not been an easy decision to make. “It is the right one,” he said, “and it will most certainly have a financial impact on our organization. However, our number one concern is the safety and health of our people and all our supporters. We will still accept donations and will be selling t-shirts and raffle tickets. We truly appreciate the donations we have already received, and we encourage our supporters to be helping others as we get through this crisis.”

Every years since 1977, the Hike/Bike/Run has been the major fundraiser for Valley Haven School. It provides the match for the federal funding the school receives each year. “We do not know what lies ahead in regard to our funding sources and federal programs,” Brown said, “but we are hopeful that certain considerations will be given for organizations like Valley Haven that will let them operate to their full potential.”

Brown said he’s optimistic Valley Haven will still receive the state funding it normally gets each year.

“These are unprecedented times,” Brown said. “We are struggling to adjust and to make best of the situation. We felt that we needed to update everyone on this. We want everyone to rest assured that the Valley Haven staff and board remain committed to serving our people at Valley Haven for many years to come. Thank you for your understanding, and please be safe.”

The Arc of the Chattahoochee Valley is a 501(c)3 legal entity that has sponsored Valley Haven School since 1959. Currently, the school serves 110 individuals ranging in age from three-month-old babies to adults who are in their early eighties. Valley Haven has an early intervention program for babies showing signs of developmental delays. The adult program allows those with intellectual disabilities to receive daily interaction on the part of trained professionals in a school-like setting. The individual has the benefit of a support network that determines which activities can be most beneficial and important to them.

When asked if any thought had been given to delaying the Hike/Bike/Run to a date when COVID-19 has subsided, Brown said this is the kind of year when we need to support each other and recover from what has been a national, and global, tragedy.  “We don’t need to push it this year,” he said. “We will get by this year and hopefully regroup next year for the 2021 Hike/Bike/Run.”

Long-time supporters of Valley Haven School had their annual kickoff event at the school on Tuesday, March 10th. Chairpersons for each committee were announced at that time. Everything appeared to be set for another Hike/Bike/Run, but within a few days it became very apparent that the spread of the virus would cause some drastic measures. Most local schools announced indefinite closures. Valley Haven has been closed since Friday. March 18th.