by Kirby Lindsay, posted 21 July 2014
On Tuesday, July 29th, from 5p – 10p, Spoke & Food returns for another evening of cycling and dining, out and about at 20 eating/drink establishments. Spoke & Food raises money – this year the beneficiary is Seattle’s Outdoors For All Foundation – but it is as much about fundraising as it is about people using their bikes. “It’s just a night to celebrate your community,” explained Heather Slettebak, “and getting out on your bike, together!”
Simply To Have Fun!
Heather and her husband, Garett Slettebak, organized the first Spoke & Food in 2010, with the funds going to Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program. Each year since, they’ve changed up the non-profit Spoke & Food supports and the 20 participating restaurants/breweries in 20 different neighborhoods. This means that every year the same group of friends, families and/or organizations can get together to ride a new route to a new location.
“You could invite your family, and your neighbors,” Heather said, “trying out this experience together.” This year, the PEPS group the Slettebaks take part in has organized a group to cycle out, as families, to one of the eateries. “We invite all our friends,” Heather explained, as a bonding experience with food and fitness.
When asked if Spoke & Food is a fundraiser or a social event, Heather acknowledged, “It’s a shared goal.” She wants to get people biking, particularly among the neighborhoods, as a healthier option. She also likes raising money for non-profits (they’ve partnered with BikeWorks, FamilyWorks, and Seattle Tilth.) Spoke & Food builds community awareness, environmental awareness, and serves as a practical lesson in how easy it is to get around, but when pushed Heather admitted that Spoke & Food, “it’s really, simply, to have fun!”
To Bike, Or Not To Bike
While dating, Garett and Heather would cycle together to dinner. Five years ago, “we were looking for a volunteer activity together,” Garett recalled, “using our capabilities.” Together, they sign-up participating breweries and restaurants, and work with the non-profit, and organize Spoke & Food. “We keep it going,” Heather said, “despite life.” Today, the married couple still takes a ride out for dinner – and other places – but they have their two-year-old riding along. “We do it whenever we can,” Heather said.
Spoke & Food can help everyone see – particularly on bright, summer Tuesday evenings – how easy it can be to get out, for the whole family, on your bicycles.
Best of all, for those who don’t want to bicycle, the participating locations will give 20% of all their revenue on July 29th from 5p – 10p to Outdoors For All, whether or not you rode there. In Fremont, the participating Spoke & Food location is Fremont Brewing Company. “They said yes right away,” Heather explained, “They are set up for biking. It’s a great place to share and enjoy.” Even better, for a lot of Fremonsters, Fremont Brewing is an easy – and well-known – walk…
Serve In A Healthy Way
Through Spoke & Food, riders also learn about local non-profits. Heather enjoys the chance organizing Spoke & Food gives her, “to learn about the different organizations.” The time spent with FamilyWorks particularly got her charged up. “Certain people give off a vibe that is so positive,” she observed about FamilyWorks, and its Facility Director Jake Weber.
As for Seattle’s Outdoors For All, “they found us,” Heather explained. The Foundation sent the Slettebaks an e-mail after last year’s Spoke & Food asking to be considered as a beneficiary. The organizers and the philanthropists met and, “it seemed like a great fit,” Heather said, “they’ve been great to work with.” Plus, the offices for Outdoors For All are located at Magnuson Park, near where Garett works with Pro-Motion Events (which organizes the Fremont 5K Fun Run & Briefcase Relay.)
The couple always seeks local organizations, “that serve people in a healthy way,” Heather observed. Outdoors For All provides year round programming in outdoor recreation for people with physical, developmental and sensory disabilities. Each year Outdoors For All assists more than 2,000 children and adults to get out and get active snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross country and downhill skiing, hiking, river rafting, canoeing and kayaking, day camps, water skiing, rock-climbing, camping and, of course, cycling.
At the last few Spoke & Food events, the Slettebaks asked the beneficiary organizations to post volunteers and/or staff at as many of the participating locations as possible. This gives the non-profit a face: someone riders can ask their questions.
‘Biking To Dinner Is Fun’!
Those who previously took part in Spoke & Food may notice new features of this free evening. One event sponsor, Verity Credit Union, will do giveaways at Julia’s Restaurant (in Wallingford) and Razzis Pizzeria (on Greenwood.) For long-distance riders, Spoke & Food has expanded to Bothell, with Tandem Dinner & Wine Bar. And, this year, three locations (Georgetown, Maple Leaf, and Seward Park) of the same restaurant – Flying Squirrel Pizza – are participating. “It was very kind of their owner,” Heather said of Flying Squirrel, “to be so supportive.”
“We partner with 20 different restaurants and breweries in 20 different neighborhoods,” Garett explained, “that all donate 20% of that night’s total revenues.” More importantly, “the restaurants write the checks directly to the charity,” Garett reported, “100% goes to the cause.” For the Slettebaks, this is a philanthropic adventure. “We get the opportunity to benefit the city,” he explained, “with an event anyone can do. Even if you don’t bike there, you are still supporting a good cause.”
Heather hopes that, through Spoke & Food, more people learn, “that biking to dinner is fun!” Give it a try on July 29th! See a complete list of participating locations on SpokeAndFood.com or the Facebook page – and then invite friends, family and everyone who could use a night out, riding and dining and supporting a great cause!
- Prepare For The Fun Of The Fun Run
- by Kirby Lindsay, March 21, 2014
- Bust Out The Briefcases, And Fun Run
- by Kirby Lindsay, May 30, 2012
- FamilyWorks Feeds The Poor
- by Kirby Lindsay, August 8, 2012
©2014 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.