What is BRAN?
BRAN stands for Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska. Jerry Baird, a Northwest Rotarian, given the job of finding a community service project for a fledging Rotary Club spawned it. He saw an employee of his take a week of vacation to ride his bicycle across another state. After questioning his employee’s sanity, he proposed the project to the club as a fundraiser for charity. It was such a simple idea, a cross-state bicycle ride with proceeds to help others. With the help of dentist John Wupper, BRAN was conceptualized in 1980.
As of 2014 (the 35th year of the ride), we’ve visited Ninety-three counties and 24 different starting towns; Over the years, the ride has developed a fine reputation and a lot of support throughout Nebraska. The past and current organizers have had the wonderful opportunity to meet some great folks on the ride and across the state.
BRAN as an entity is set up as a charitable Nebraska non-profit corporation. Its intent is to provide a fun, safe way for participants to experience the great state of Nebraska. Technically, separate from both the Rotary Club of Northwest Omaha and the Omaha Pedalers Bicycle Club, BRAN uses its revenues to provide scholarships to Nebraska high school graduates to Nebraska Trade Schools, Colleges and Universities. It is a way to give back to the state for what the state has given us over the years. We want to stop the “brain drain” from Nebraska while at the same time supporting safe cycling.
BRAN is more than a bike ride, fundraiser, or community service project. It is in fact a multifaceted experience, which benefits many in the state of Nebraska.
What does BRAN provide?
- Sport and Recreation – for 600 cyclists and their accompanying friends and family. BRAN represents many participants’ “summer vacation.” One rider has ridden all previous BRANs; many have ridden 20 or more. The ride represents a healthy way to see the great state of Nebraska.
- Camaraderie – for Northwest Rotarians who work together exemplifying “service above self”. Many of the Northwest Rotarians work on BRAN during the year. From being on the road all week, or loading the buses and semi that bring the riders to the start, or hosting a “welcome home” reception, BRAN is truly an innovative service club project.
- Visibility – for both cycling and the Northwest Rotary Club throughout the state and nationally, BRAN is a high profile event. It receives excellent media coverage in the state, the region and nationally. It is known throughout the United States as an extremely well organized event.
- Safety – BRAN has had an excellent safety record throughout its’ years of operation. No serious accidents or injuries are remarkable for a long running event of this type. BRAN riders have pedaled over 7 milion miles over the years without a serious incident.
- Community Service – The BRAN ride has a statewide impact by providing money to fund scholarships for Nebraska High School graduates to Nebraska trade schools, colleges and universities. Besides the scholarships, BRAN provides revenue to school, community, civic and church groups who put on “feeds” for the riders or who use the “BRAN experience” to better help their community. Between towns also benefit by providing rest areas, snacks and encouragement.
- Fund Raising – BRAN is not a fundraising ride. We do not ask riders to collect pledges. In fact, our registration fee only covers the direct costs of putting on the ride. We have done an excellent job of controlling expenses, which allows us to offer scholarships.
- Rural-Urban Interaction – Rural and urban peoples often don’t get a chance to interact with each other. BRAN brings both of these groups together to explore all they have in common. BRAN riders often remark about the beauty of Nebraska – both its countryside and its people.
- Support for Cycling – BRAN lends out its equipment to other cycling and sports groups.
- Tourism – BRAN has won the state tourism award in the “Events” category a number of times. A typical BRAN ride will have participants from 25-35 different states, and 50-70 different Nebraska towns and villages. Over the years we have had participants from ten other countries ride with us.
- Economic Development – for generating significant economic activity for villages, towns, and cities throughout the state. On five occasions we have run “Two Dollar Tuesday” a unique way of measuring economic impact in an overnight town. The amount of money spent by BRAN riders has ranged from $10,000 to $16,000.