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Riding the open road for charity


Philanthropy — 600-mile bike ride around western Oregon raises more than $6,000 for The Cupcake Girls-Portland

It’s one thing to say you support a cause. But former Newberg resident Elizabeth Rogers decided she wanted to do more — a lot more — for a cause she believes in: The Cupcake Girls-Portland, a nonprofit supporting and raising awareness for women in the adult entertainment industry.

So, the day after the Fourth of July, Rogers and six of her friends set out on a 600-mile bicycle trip through western Oregon that ended up raising about $6,000 for the group. The trip — which went through Newberg, Salem, Eugene, Roseburg, Crater Lake National Park, Bend, Madras and Mount Hood before arriving back in Portland — took eight days to complete.

For Rogers, who organized the trip, it was not a brand-new experience. She has done two similar — and much longer — trips for charity in recent years. In 2011, she rode more than 2,000 miles — from the border of Mexico to Canada — with a team to raise money for Blood Water Mission, and she rode half that distance the following year for the Just Hope Campaign.

She said riding her bike for charitable causes is how she does her part to make a positive impact on the world.

“For me, I am a broke college student who hasn’t decided what to do with her life, and this is a way for me to contribute to fighting injustice with something I’m gifted in,” she said. “I may not be able to write a check for $6,000, but I can raise $6,000 through something like this.”

The Cupcake Girls fundraiser, which was dubbed The Sweet Ride Tour 2013, differed from her previous two efforts in that she organized it herself and was able to set the course in Oregon.

“I love Oregon more than any other state, and I thought it should be a beautiful state to cycle through,” she said. “It just seemed like a really awesome idea to have people from Portland riding their bikes around Oregon for the people of Portland.”

The riders who joined Rogers on the trek were less experienced than she. None of them had ever ridden more than 50 miles at a time, whereas the Sweet Ride required the team to average about 80 miles a day. It was a painful experience at times, she said, but all were able to push through.

“I felt awesome about our team,” she said. “It was a really communal experience. We bonded together.”

The ride also included nightly stops at churches and other venues, where Rogers and the team explained more about the Cupcake Girls and its mission.

The money raised by the tour, which includes new donations that are still being accepted, will go toward the Cupcake Girls’ operations. Rogers said the Portland group, which was started in November 2011 as a branch of the Las Vegas-based organization, is run entirely by volunteers and is in dire need of office space for storage, meetings, programming, training and other events.

The nonprofit would also like to eventually start a women’s resource center in Portland—which would be the first of its kind in the city. Rogers said the group’s mission is not about protesting the existence of the industry but trying to support and empower the women in it — who too often can be victimized and abused by their employers.

“It’s a huge problem,” she said.

For more information, visit www.thecupcakegirls.org/cupcake-girls-portland.