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The Making of a (Charity) Classic

A look at the steps taken that shaped what the large-scale event has become today

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

Join us tomorrow for the seccond annual Toyota Flyers Charity Classic! Walk up regitration is available. More information HERE.

The 2018 Toyota Flyers Charity Classic is a city-wide event incorporating a 5k walk/run through the Philadelphia Navy Yard, a 10-mile family bike ride through the Navy Yard and FDR Park, and two bike rides - a 50K and a 100K - spanning the sights and sounds of Broad Street, through historic Valley Forge Park leading back through MLK Drive to the Wells Fargo Center Complex. 

This year marks the second annual edition of the summertime event in which thousands of participants bicycle, run or walk to raise money for worthy causes in the Delaware Valley. The Toyota Flyers Charity Classic grew out of the Flyers Charities 5k run/walk, which proved very popular over a five-year period.

In 2016, Brad Marsh, the Flyers' director of community development and president of the Flyers Alumni Association had an idea for the Flyers to add a bicycling event to the organization's charitable fundraisers. An avid cyclist who once bicycled coast-to-coast across Canada to raise funds for Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. In the 1980s, during his playing days as a Flyers defenseman, he used to participate in off-season triathalons.

In developing the concept for what became the Charity Classic, various ideas were discussed along with Flyers Charities. 


"We considered doing a separate bicycling event from the 5k run and walk and several different formats for how to present it, but ultimately we all agreed that the best idea was to stage a big single-day event to be held each summer. Basically, the idea was a day of fitness and fun to raise money for charity. The participants get to pick which event and distance they want to do, and they can join a fundraising team, create of their own, or participate individually. After everyone finishes, we all get together for a big after-party,"  Marsh recalls.

"It's a simple idea but a complicated process. In terms of the event courses, we worked with the City of Philadelphia to set the routes for the cycling events at various distances and the 5k through the Navy Yard, establish the start times -- which will be staggered this year to allow everyone to finish at about the same time -- and to correspondingly arrange for a section of Broad Street to be closed off. It takes quite awhile for all the pieces to fall into place."

All proceeds raised from registrations and team fundraising benefit Flyers Charities and the Flyers Alumni Association and the various non-profit organizations they support throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. The Flyers Alumni component will be donated toward the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation's goal to build a new rink in the Delaware Valley for use by the Snider Hockey kids. Flyers Charities will support local non-profits providing educational and recreational resources to underserved youth in the community.



The biggest participating team last year, both in terms of number of participants and funds raised, was the Ides of Marsh, captained by Marsh himself. The team included many members of Brad's family, spanning three generations, as well as dozens of other participants including retired longtime pro cyclist Floyd Landis.

"Our team goal this year is for Ides of Marsh to have the biggest team again this year, raise the most money again and top our participation numbers and fundraising total from last year. It's a fun way to compete, and the money all goes to a good cause," Marsh said.

In addition to the team captained by Marsh, Flyers fans can alternatively sign up for the Flyers Alumni Team, Bundy's Chariot of Flyers (captained by Chris Therien) or Team Guffaw (captained by Flyers Hall of Famer Brian Propp), among other options. The Flyers Alumni team includes the likes of Bob Clarke, Bernie Parent, Danny Briere, Dave "the Hammer" Schultz, Paul Holmgren and many more.



As with the Ides of Marsh, the idea behind the Flyers Alumni Team, Bundy's Chariot of Flyers and Team Guffaw is to provide Flyers fans with the opportunity for fans to interact with their favorite Alumni during the day, even if they participate in a different event. 

"The reason why were are staggering the start times for the different events this year is that, at the end of the day, we'll all be together with our teammates and the fans for the after-party. We've hired a great local band, Chico's Vibe, to set the party mood. We'll have the Flyers Fan Fest going throughout the day," Marsh said.

The Flyers Fan Fest will include family-friendly outdoor games, inflatables, street hockey, food and more. Parking is free on the day of the event, and the Fan Fest is free to attend.

"We realize that not everyone can or wants to bicycle or do the 5k walk or run, but we want everyone to have a great time. We also encourage people who can't attend on July 15 to make a donation in any amount to our fundraising teams in the name of our participants. There are lots of different ways people can help out, and various ways that we want to give something back to our fundraising participants as a thank you from us to them," Marsh said.

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