“Dressing up, riding a bicycle, and throwing candy to sweet kids – everything sounds so fun and all while raising money for a great cause!” Melissa Sizemore is ready with her witch hat, ruby tennis shoes, and her broomstick (bicycle) for the first annual Witches Ride in Bluff Park.
Brooms touch down this Sunday, Oct. 21 at the park at Shades Cliff Pool starting at 3:30pm. Women participating as riders are dressing in costumes and decorating their bikes/brooms to ride the route while greeting and giving out candy to the kids lining the streets.
“I’m looking forward to spending the afternoon with some of my favorite people, seeing everyone dressed up, meeting new people, and NOT falling off my bicycle,” Sizemore says.
The idea for the Witches Ride was conjured up by two Bluff Park Moms, Laura Powell and Katie Dixon who say they were inspired by other which rides in other communities. It is an effort to bring the community together and to raise awareness and support for PKU, Phenylketonuria, an amino acid condition in which affected individuals have an inability to properly process the essential amino acid Phenylalanine, which accumulates and damages the brain.
“Katie and I both have children who attend a local weekday program. Their teacher has a grandson with PKU. We saw that she was posting on Facebook about the desperate need for funding concerning PKU. With Katie and I both having six children between us, we wanted to help the Alabama PKU Foundation support new mothers who have babies with PKU.” Laura Powell says
The event is free to the public but tickets sold to participate as a rider in the Bluff Park Witches Ride go to the Alabama PKU Foundation.
“We have about fifty people signed up as riders, which is amazing for our first year,” Powell adds. “Any ‘witches’, 18 and order, are welcome to participate.” Most witches are riding, but Powell says that they do have a few who did not have bicycles that will be walking behind the bikes after they have started the ride.
“Katie and I will be leading the pack on our broomsticks,” Laura Powell says. Witches fly at 5:00pm. They will start and end at the park.
Potion for Success
Powell and Dixon started planning the event at the beginning of September. Along with the Witches Ride, there will also be three food trucks – Urban Pops, Rooski’s Flatbread, and Kona Ice. The trucks will set up around 3:00pm and stay until the event is over, around 5:30 or 6:00pm. There will also be temporary tattoos and a photo booth set up for fun. Powell says parking could be an issue and advises participants to park at Bluff Park Elementary School and walk down to the park with their bicycles. Participants will need to check-in at the “Check-In” tent when they arrive to receive an armband and fill out a waiver. Both planners will also be riding in the event.
“This is going to be so beneficial to the community because we have families that live and work up here who have loved ones with PKU,” Melissa Sizemore says. “It is important for us to come together to show our support for each other. The more we do for each other, the stronger our little community will be.”
More about PKU
PKU is a rare inherited disorder. It is detected in a heel prick done a few days after birth. PKU can result in severe intellectual disabilities unless detected soon after birth and treated with a special formula. Treatment includes a low-phenylalanine diet, as well. The formula for a baby with PKU is very expensive.
The heel prick is part of the Alabama Newborn Screening program that tests for other health issues such as Biotinidase Deficiency, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, and Cystic Fibrosis, to name only a few. The screening also includes a hearing and pulse Ox test. For more information, see adph.org/newbornscreening