Each spring the downtown corridor of Anniston is filled with bicycles, families and incredible selections of crafts, games and food. For 17 years the Noble Street Festival and the Sunny King Criterium shine a spotlight on Noble Street for tourism and economic impact. The events, which extend to Piedmont on Sunday for more bicycle races, also have major impacts for the local community from a charitable side. The Noble Street Festival and Alabama Cycling Classic are proud to support Meals On Wheels and Relay for Life of Calhoun County.
The partnership with the Sunny King Criterium has become one of the largest fundraising efforts for Relay for Life of Calhoun County each year. Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser dedicated to helping communities attack cancer. The local chapter in Calhoun County raises awareness and funds year round, with a donation in April from the Sunny King Criterium being one of its largest checks. In 2019, the Sunny King Criterium donated $10,000 for a fifth consecutive year, surpassing $165,000 in funds raised from the bike races for cancer research and local patient support.
“It’s a win-win partnership,” said race director Marilyn Hill of Start Smart Events. “Relay for Life of Calhoun County recruits volunteers each spring for the bike races. We need more than 200 people to fill about 100 positions. We pledge to donate $100 for each position filled to be provided to the local Relay for Life chapter to help fight cancer.”
Every day thousands of cancer patients need a ride to treatment, but some may not have a way to get there or are unable to drive themselves. For patients and their families and caregivers in Calhoun County, the nearest treatments may be 60 miles away in Birmingham. Funds and grants from Relay for Life can be used to provide transportation to and from treatment. Resources can also be used to provide free places to stay near hospitals, such as the Hope Lodge in Birmingham.
The criterium’s second beneficiary is Meals On Wheels. All revenue from the sale of advertising in the Official Festival Guide (Noble Street Festival/Sunny King Criterium) is dedicated to Meals On Wheels. There are close to 20,000 copies printed and distributed in the community by the Anniston Star.
Approximately $10,000 to $15,000 is generated with these ad sales annually, which is the only fundraiser for Meals On Wheels. These raised funds provide so that 18,500 meals are delivered to area seniors in Anniston, Oxford, and Weaver.
In Anniston, Meals On Wheels is a program operating under the auspices of Interfaith Ministries of Calhoun County. Meals On Wheels serves vulnerable seniors 60 years of age or older who are experiencing difficulties in maintaining ongoing healthy nutrition. The program is a hot lunch delivery program operating Monday through Friday. The very large, hot lunch is supplied by Stringfellow Memorial Hospital in Anniston.
In addition, all lunches are delivered by a dedicated group of volunteers, who cover 11 routes five days a week to reach homebound neighbors. It adds up in one year to more than 3,000 volunteer hours to provide the lunches.