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Bike Event Raises Money to Help Child Abuse Victims

Bike Start/Finish line

It rained 15 days straight in the Washington, D.C. area. Yet somehow, the skies held for Tour de Cookie, the bicycling event that spreads awareness of child abuse prevention and raises money for the Tree House Child Assessment Center.

For the second year, Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus was a sponsor of the event and was the starting and ending points for Tour de Cookie bikers. Approximately 625 bicyclists participated, up from 280 in 2013, the event’s first year.

Bicyclists rode through the streets of Rockville, some on 12-mile routes, some on 26-mile routes and some on 42-mile routes. There was also a children’s ride and a 0K stroll, where some chose to do their part by walking 906 feet.

Before each group set off, the emcee led the crowd in singing the Sesame Street tune “C is for Cookie,” in recognition of the unique part of the event: cookie stands set up along the routes. Area organizations host the cookie stands, providing riders with freshly baked cookies, energy and excitement. There were 12 cookie stands at this year’s event.

The event is lighthearted. A man dressed up as Cookie Monster. Balloon artists, a woman on stilts and a face painter entertained the crowd.

But the mission is serious.

Tom Grazio, director of the Tree House, said the organization’s mission is to help victims of abuse. The Tree House charges nothing to the public for its services, which include comprehensive medical examinations, mental health assessments, mental health therapy, victim advocacy, forensic interviews, nurse case management, and education and prevention.

Grazio said the Tree House sees, on average, two new children every day. For some children, a visit to the Tree House is the first time they have seen a doctor in years.

“We’re not just treating the abuse,” Grazio said. “We are treating the child. And we charge nothing.”

“Child abuse is everywhere, and it’s preventable and treatable,” Grazio continued.

The Tree House, established in 2002, is a private-public partnership between the Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County and the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services.

The money raised from the Tour de Cookie – approximately $31,000 net – will enable the Tree House to hire a therapist.

Grazio said the money “will reduce my therapist wait list, which will make me very happy.”


CATEGORY: In The Community