Shervin Rahimpour's family, members of the Baha'i faith, fled religious persecution in Iran when he was 5 years old. He and his sisters could not have pursued higher education in Iran. In the United States, the Rahimpours were free to learn. Though finances could be a "tremendous obstacle," he found help.
Rahimpour is one of the hundreds of recipients of $1.2 million in scholarship money raised by the University of Colorado's Buffalo Bicycle Classic.
"The BBC scholarship helped give me and my family the support I needed to pursue my education with an ease of mind," Rahimpour said. "As a result, I have been able to focus on my studies both during college and even now in (CU's) medical school."
The Buffalo Bicycle Classic, which debuted in 2003, is the brainchild of Todd Gleeson, dean of CU's College of Arts and Sciences, and Woody Eaton, a 1962 alumnus, investor and philanthropist. The pair hatched the idea of a fundraising ride for scholarships while cycling together in support of The Children's Hospital.
The event has generated 448 scholarships for good students who have demonstrated financial need. Students cannot apply for the scholarship and don't even know they're in the running until they learn they have won. It is the single largest source of scholarships in the College of Arts and Sciences, which is the largest of the university's colleges and schools.
Recipients call it a significant windfall.
Stephanie Protsman, a 2009 alumna who graduated with degrees in communication and Italian, started dreaming about studying in Italy when she was in sixth grade. But in college, fiscal constraints made the dream seem more "elusive than attainable."
"Receiving the scholarship two years in a row provided the financial jumpstart I needed to make my Italian dream a reality," Protsman said. "I spent a year in Italy, where I not only became fluent in the language, but where I built the self-confidence to know I am capable of anything."
She is "forever grateful" for the support of her "life-changing" studies.
So is Marta Kostelny, a former College of Arts and Sciences student who graduated in 2007 with a marketing degree from CU's Leeds School of Business.
The scholarship was "a big help financially and really eased my mind about tuition, making it easier to focus on my studies," Kostelny said. "What I didn't expect was how the BBC opened my eyes to volunteering and how much fun it could be. I had an amazing time volunteering at the event and met a lot of great people, whom I stayed in contact with afterward."It was amazing to even be considered for the scholarship, and receiving it was an honor. I am proud to say that I was a part of the Buffalo Bicycle Classic."
Cyclists of all ages and abilities are gearing up for this year's Elevations Credit Union Buffalo Bicycle Classic, set for Sept. 12 in Boulder. Ambitious cyclists can participate in 100-mile, 70-mile, 50-mile or 35-mile rides. More casual riders, including families and recreational riders, are encouraged to ride the 14-mile Little Buffalo, which will include snow cones and complimentary face paintings.
Early registration is recommended since participation will be capped at 2,500. The event's popularity is widely recognized; Bicycling Magazine dubbed the BBC as Boulder's No. 1 "Cool Event" in the magazine's 2006 "best cycling cities" issue.
All cyclists participating in this fully supported, fundraising ride will generate scholarship funds. Online registration of $95 for the longer rides includes a scholarship donation of $45. Registration for the Little Buffalo is $65 for participants 14 and older and $35 for riders ages 8 to 14.
Those who "Ride the Buffalo" will start and finish in Boulder at the University of Colorado, Benson Field, across Colorado Boulevard from Folsom Field. The longer courses traverse through Boulder and Larimer counties. The 14-mile Little Buff is a fun cruiser ride around Boulder to the town of Marshall; it is perfect for those who want to participate but don't want to face long courses and busy roads.
The 35-mile course is a fun ride in Boulder County to St. Vrain Road, on to Hygiene, and back past the Boulder Reservoir; the 50-mile ride challenges riders north to a turnaround point near Berthoud and back; and the 70- mile and century ride for stronger cyclists winds past Carter Lake, with the century continuing up to a turnaround point on Buckhorn Road (near Horsetooth Reservoir) and back.
Registration for all rides includes a Ride the Buffalo T-shirt, water bottle, great aid station treats, breakfast and lunch. Jerseys, socks and other merchandise are available separately. An expo featuring sponsors will be at the start/finish where riders can win raffle prizes and enjoy after-race food, beverages and entertainment. Riders of all abilities – 8 years and older for the 14-mile ride; 12 and older for the longer lengths – are welcome to choose the length of ride that fits their capabilities.
Riders may register online by Sept. 7 at www.buffalobicycleclassic.com. Walk-up registration is available the day of the ride and includes a $10 late fee. For information, call 303-735-1569 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.