"It was our best ever,". These are the words of Sonny
Sweet, the executive director of the Watauga County American Red
Cross as he describes the success of the 2009 Blood, Sweat and
Gears event, held earlier this summer.
"It was the first time that we made more than $50,000," Sweet continued. "It was a great fundraiser, making more than $6,000 over last year."
Such success made the celebration even sweeter, a celebration which was held on Thursday at the Chick-fil-A restaurant in Boone. The celebration, known as the Blood, Sweat and Gears Appreciation Luncheon, gathered together prominent sponsors, supporters and organizers of the annual American Red Cross fundraiser.
"We used to have the celebration right after the race," Sweet said, "but everyone was always so tired, so we decided to back it up to a later date."
More than 1,250 riders took part in this year's Blood, Sweat and Gears, held on June 27 in Valle Crucis. Both the 50-mile and 100-mile rides sold out, with a waiting list of more than 200. The first Blood, Sweat and Gears was held in 1999.
"The first year, we raised around $3,000," said Sweet, "so, to raise more than $50,000 this year shows you how the event has grown. It is our No. 1 fundraiser, so it is very important to our disaster relief efforts."
Sweet said that riders from 32 states took part in this year's rides, a number that shows how well known the event has become.
As part of the appreciation luncheon, 18 different awards were given out to those who played a big role in the event's success. Those recognized were: MAST General Store; Footsloggers; Samuel Jackson & Co; Southern Peaks Real Estate Services; Sledgehammer Charlie's Smoke House and Grill; Greystone Insurance Associates Inc; Norwood's Commercial Appliances; Pizza Hut; Chick-fil-A; Sheriff Len Hagaman; Watauga Tourism Development Authority; MPrints Inc; Blue Horse Promotions Inc; Coca-Cola; Appalachian Hospitality Management; Joe's Italian Kitchen; and High Country Signs.
Given the current economic conditions, Sweet said the success of Blood, Sweat and Gears is even more important.
"It's absolutely important to us," Sweet said. "Our donations are down, just like most everyone. If not for the Blood, Sweat and Gears fundraiser, we would probably be shutting our doors. This event helps us do the work we are well known for doing."