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Farmington, CT — The Dream Ride Experience, a multi-day series of events benefiting Special Olympics culminated in Farmington, CT, last weekend, with The Dream Show, an exotic and collector car show as well as the annual Dream Ride, a 40-mile motorcycle cruise through the neighboring Connecticut countryside.
Thousands of motorcycles converged at the Farmington Club for the police escorted ride through neighboring scenic towns. Meanwhile, at the Farmington Club, an impressive collection of over 400 cars assembled for judging by a selected group of auto experts including Wayne Carini, from the TV show, Chasing Classic Cars.
The event included over 30 pet adoption agencies, live music by local bands and by acclaimed country band, Lonestar and other vendors. Over 100 Special Olympic athletes from across the country as well as Canada and Australia were brought together with thousands of motorcyclists and auto enthusiasts. As a grocery store wholesaler, Bozzuto's Inc. and its sponsors of the Dream Ride, IGA retailers and Hometown Foundation presented an impressive array of buffet-style breakfast and lunch meals that fed thousands of guests as well as booths offering food and beverage samples.
The focus of the Dream Ride is Special Olympics athletes who had the opportunity to participate in various unified events such as fishing and miniature golf with their families and Dream Ride participants. They were also treated to The Twilight Dream Cruise on Saturday with classic and hot-rod drivers carrying Special Olympic athletes from Papa's Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep in New Britain to The Farmington Club for a huge dinner and entertainment.
Additionally, the sale of event clothing, raffle tickets, souvenirs and other donations continued the fund raising throughout the weekend, helping to raise the total. As the event end neared, donor Mike Fux contributed an additional $50,000 to exceed the Dream Ride $1 million goal set by Michael Bozzuto, the event's founder.
"We did it!" Bozzuto exclaimed from the stage as he gave awards to a large group of participants, sponsors and athletes, "What an effort from everyone who participated-no matter how big or small the donation—it all works together to continue the great work of Special Olympics in celebrating the accomplishments of all these inspiring athletes!" he added.
The Dream Ride kicked off with a 7-day, 1900-mile motorcycle trip that left West Palm Beach, Florida on August 16, arriving in Farmington, CT on August 22. At each stop en route, Special Olympic athletes greeted the riders, were presented with Dream Ride medals and enjoyed the camaraderie surrounding the motorcycles and bikers. The Dream Ride also gave each local Special Olympics chapter a check for $1,000 to help continue their year-round sports programs. The original Dream Riders were joined by additional riders and escorts at different legs of the journey and were met in Virginia by sponsors from Australia who joined the caravan in exotic cars from Bozzuto's collection. Athletes from Australia also made the long trip to CT to participate in the festivities, creating lifelong memories and earning the Farthest Traveled award.
Bozzuto started The Dream Ride with a few friends to raise funds for Special Olympics in 2002, following several other smaller donations to the charity. It has grown every year and now encompasses a year-long series of events that culminates in the annual August Dream Ride Experience. "It is an 'experience' because until you actually see how big and how exciting this event is, you can't understand it. But once you do, it becomes personal-you feel the bond with the athletes and all the other participants and it changes you, just like it changes the lives of those athletes who make Special Olympics their way to change how they feel and how they live--we all benefit!" Bozzuto stated.