Riding a bike takes practice. Riding a bike through Jersey City takes gumption and a really good helmet. Riding miles through the local counties takes dedication. And riding to raise money for local organizations should be celebrated.
Juliet Foster is taking a big leap and putting her cycling skills to use riding 800 miles in 11 days starting on June 21st to raise money for New City Kids, a local Jersey City Non-profit working with children from grade school through college. Foster, along with about 20 other riders, will be starting in Jersey City, New Jersey and ending up in Grand Rapids, Michigan This is part of a larger initiative to raise $150,000 through the New City Kids Bike Tour 2019. Foster is aiming to raise $11,000 and she is currently AT 35% to her goal.
Foster discovered New City Kids through a fundraiser a few years ago; she loved their use of music and their mission and “has kept tabs on them ever since.” Foster was a teacher so the programming with New City Kids really struck a chord, “NCK is important because they’re making a difference in the lives of these kids they reach daily… I want to see the kids in our community succeed. That’s important to me. Children didn’t ask to come into this world, we brought them here and sometimes we all need to pitch in to help them gain positive experiences.”
She also shared a disturbing fact about prisons and how they are built in low income areas, “I found out that prisons are loosely built based on the 4th and 5th grade reading level in low income areas. This infuriated me because I thought, being a former 4th grade teacher, ‘what 4th or 5th grader says they want to grow up to spend their lives in and out of jail?’ What the folks at NCK are doing is smart - they mentor the kids and as they get older they will be an example to the younger kids in their community.”
This is not the first time Foster has given back to the community. In 2013, she was awarded the Women of Action Award in Jersey City for her work with the West Side Community Association. She is also an avid networker, “I was a member of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce 2010 until 2018. I volunteered my time with the Chamber by creating the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce’s Breakfast Club and facilitating the Club meetings for three years.” Foster is definitely someone who doesn’t mind getting dirty to create something impactful and wonderful.
She is very passionate about her son (Tim) and his girlfriend (Sara), who she calls her daughter-in-law. “Together, they have reminded me how amazing life truly is,” she gushed. She prides herself on the careers she has had as a Veteran of the US Air Force and holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. But her greatest success is “My passion to be my best self and work on me. I used to weigh 300 pounds and decided that it was time to lose weight and take control of my health (physical and mental). So, I have worked tirelessly on me to get myself to where I am today (under 200 pounds) and I’m proud of the work I’ve put into this person!”
Foster found cycling through participating in triathlons as a way to stay in shape and be healthy. She has been faithfully cycling since 2016, having to leave triathlons due to a cycling accident. She explains, “I was unable to swim without experiencing shoulder pain, so I made a decision to continue my weight loss journey through cycling. My dedication and focus is first on being faithful in my weight loss journey, but also knowing that this is the one thing I get to do for myself and can do by myself and truly enjoy! And once the guys at Grove Street Bikes started getting me out on the road more, that was it, I was hooked. I have an amazing support group of cycling friends…so it has kept me sucked in!” Her son is also her biggest supporter telling her how proud he is of her and this brings her so much joy.
Because she loves cycling so much she actually had, “a strong desire to cycle across the country one day to raise money for a charity. So, when I heard about the ride, it was a no brainer! I enjoy giving back and when I moved to Jersey City I felt an immense sense of community here.” Foster explains how rewarding it can be to give back to the community, “Giving back to others, serving others, volunteering to do the things I choose to do and help where I want to help. It reminds me that there are greater things going on in the world and that I can help in some small way. I would encourage anyone, wanting to do something like this, to believe in themselves and just say YES! I didn’t say it would be easy, but I can say it is terribly rewarding!”
Inspiration is key in all that Foster has and continues to accomplish, showing these children that with hard work and dedication you can have an amazing life. “I hope others will be inspired to want to get involved and support these kids. It’s not about the organization, it’s about giving a kid a chance. It’s about allowing a group of people to teach a kid life skills, give them an opportunity to get serious about education, get to see a college campus, allowing them to know that they can do this and succeed. You only get ONE life, so make it the best you can make it!
If you are a cyclist, 2020 is an opportunity to take your riding skills and use it to help others. Foster wants us to join together, “Let’s do something great and crazy. You don’t have to do the whole ride, but even just doing the first day, helping to raise money so this organization reach their financial goals is a great place to start! Remember IT’S FOR THE KIDS…It’s not for any other reason!”
If you are interested in donating to Juliet Foster’s ride, you can do so on her donation page donate.newcitykids.org/JC-Jules