Katie Colling has always found great freedom and exhilaration on bicycle.
“It’s always been one of my passions,” she said.
So when someone mentioned a bike ride as an option for fundraising Women Aware of Siouxland, Colling was all for it. Of course, that was many years ago before the organization merged its ride with another one hosted by Siouxland Trails Foundation.
The collaboration began five years ago. Women Aware held a benefit bike ride in June while Siouxland Trails Foundation had a similar ride a month prior.
“Their ride was always the Saturday after Mother’s Day, and they always had lousy weather” said Colling, executive director of Women Aware. “They wanted our good weather.”
Ironically, the merged ride saw stormy weather the first two years. But Colling and Siouxland Trails Foundation president Craig Heartman are hoping for clear skies during this year’s Tri-State Trails Tour on Saturday (Oct. 14) at the Hilton Garden Inn Sioux City riverfront. The bike ride serves two purposes: to raise awareness about Siouxland’s unique recreational trails and raise money for Women Aware.
“Any proceeds will benefit Women Aware,” said Colling. “This is the 13th Tri-State [Trails] bike ride and it will be our 10th ride that Women Aware has been involved in.”
Women Aware of Siouxland has been around since 1978 and initially sought to help single mothers after a social upheaval in the 1970s. Now, the agency works with single mothers, single fathers and struggling families to help them achieve emotional and economic stability.
“In a nutshell, we really focus on economic empowerment,” said Colling. “It’s problem solving and bringing community resources to stabilize whatever situation they’re in and then helping them make a plan to increase their earning power. We don’t care what gender or status you are, we just want the family to be stable.”
Although Siouxland Trails Foundation doesn’t accept any of the funds gathered from the Tri-State Trails Tour, the ride itself brings focus to the organization and its mission to improve trails in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.
In addition to the collaborative Tri-State Trails Tour, Colling said Women Aware organizes plenty of other fundraisers like an upcoming talent show and the Women of Excellence awards program that occurs every March with “lots of little stuff in between.”
The bike ride benefit, however, is a special event for Colling.
“It reflects my personal passion,” she said. “I love bicycling. My husband and I do a few days of RAGBRAI every year.”
Her love of biking goes way back. Originally from Sioux City, Colling attended the University of San Francisco. “I brought my bicycle out there with me and bicycled all over San Francisco.”
And you can bet Colling is already prepared for this year’s Tri-State Trails Tour, which encourages participating riders to venture through many of Siouxland’s trails like the riverfront passage or the pathway across the bridge to South Sioux City or even a trek to the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City for more experienced riders.
“We’re offering an activity and something fun in addition to raising awareness about the agency and trails,” said Colling. “I look at it as we’re trying to earn our keep while also providing something for the community as well.
“The Siouxland Trails Foundation and I are waiting with bated breath.”