Editor’s note: I spoke with Perimeter Bicycling Association of America President Richard DerBernardis this afternoon and have added his thoughts to the article.
Tu Nidito Children and Family Services — the primary beneficiary of El Tour de Tucson for the last 17 years — is scrambling to find ways to replace $350,000 in its budget after learning via email that Perimeter Bicycling Association of America officials decided to “go in a new direction” and Tu Nidito would no longer be the primary beneficiary of the event.
The decision was announced by Tu Nidito Thursday in a newsletter and called supporters to help make up the $350,000 shortfall.
Tu Nidito executive director Liz McCusker said in a phone interview Thursday that the January email and decision by Perimeter Bicycling came as a shock.
“It was a total surprise,” McCusker said. “We had a great 17-year partnership that was mutually beneficial.”
Perimeter Bicycling Association President Richard DeBernardis said Friday that the decision was made to help keep El Tour de Tucson viable. Perimeter decided they needed to find a national title beneficiary with some local ties to help promote the event across the country and assist in finding new sponsors for the event.
DeBernardis said the Perimeter boad was proud of the $3.7 million they helped raise for Tu Nidito, but they felt like it was time to look for a national organization especially since more than 55 percent of the riders each year live outside of Pima County.
McCusker said the organization received about $350,000 per year as El Tour de Tucson’s primary beneficiary, which represents about one third of the organization’s yearly budget.
Additionally Tu Nidito operates the Ride for a Child Program that contributes an additional $125,000 per year to Tu Nidito’s budget. McCusker isn’t sure what the change means for the Ride for a Child program.
Tu Nidito has now applied to be an ancillary beneficiary which means people can choose to donate money to the organization on top of the mandatory $20 that goes to the primary charity.
DeBernardis said the Ride for a Child program can absolutely continue and said he hopes the press coverage will encourage more people to take part in the program.
As for the ancillary beneficiary, DeBernardis said they aren’t announced or awarded until the primary beneficiary is. That should happen in the year future. He said he and his board have narrowed the potential primary beneficiaries down to four and should make a decision about it soon.
McCusker said the loss of the $350,000 represents services for 250 Tucson children and Tu Nidito would have to figure out how to replace the funding because not providing them services is “not an option.”
McCusker said she is thankful for all that El Tour de Tucson did for the organization, but is now focusing on ways to make up the money.
Ultimately, DeBernardis said it was a professional decision the board made to help get El Tour de Tucson back on solid ground financially.