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The YMCA of Central Virginia is thrilled to announce the successful conclusion of its 14th annual Storming of Thunder Ridge, John Bell Memorial Ride, welcoming participants from as far away as Utah and Canada. 

Storming of Thunder Ridge, renamed in 2021 to recognize John Bell, a former cyclist, race director, and Y supporter who was tragically killed during a cycling accident involving an automobile, helps fund YMCA initiatives such as Power Scholars Academy and donor-supported financial assistance for youth programs. The ride was renamed to recognize John's contributions to Storming of Thunder Ridge as one of the original race directors and for all he did in our community.  

The event, held on May 21, 2023, brought together community members, YMCA supporters, and cycling enthusiasts, united in their dedication to supporting vital community initiatives while having fun! Participants aged 11 - 85 and of all fitness levels came together to showcase the YMCA's ability to foster community, health, and wellness while making a lasting impact. 

The YMCA remains committed to making a positive difference by promoting youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. This year's ride witnessed an overwhelming display of generosity and commitment, raising $49,000 for YMCA community-focused programs and services. These funds will be instrumental in expanding and enhancing the YMCA's community initiatives, including Power Scholars Academy, summer camp scholarships, and no-cost safety-around water swim lessons.

In addition to the impressive fundraising total, the ride also achieved significant milestones:

  1. Participation: 626 individuals, representing a diverse community cross-section participated in the event. From seasoned cyclists to novice riders, the collective effort demonstrated the inclusive nature of the YMCA's mission.
  2. Distance Covered: There are five routes ranging from 27 to 100 miles. Collectively, participants covered over 49,302 miles during the event. 
  3. Community Engagement: SOTR, John Bell Memorial Ride, fostered a strong sense of community engagement, bringing together local businesses, organizations, and community members. 
  4. Five riders have registered for all 14 rides - congratulations to Jon Hazen, James Harrington, Danny Rivers, Betsy Vanderburg, and Kenley Richards for their perseverance and dedication. 

Ride Director Paula Dahl shared her sincere gratitude, “The Y extends its deepest gratitude to everyone who contributed to the success of the SOTR 2023. This achievement would not have been possible without the support of our dedicated participants, generous sponsors, and enthusiastic volunteers. Together, we are impacting the lives of individuals and families within our community.”

View Event Photos

For more information about the YMCA of Central Virginia, email