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Two Holyoke residents to participate in national cycling fund-raiser to benefit Best Buddies program

By Paula Canning

Staff Writer

HOLYOKE Holyoke residents Kimberly Kisiel and Skip Clayton will pariticipate in the second annual Volvo Hearst Castle Challenge (VHCC) Oct. 1, a nationally televised 100-mile cycling fund-raising event that supports the Best Buddies International Program.

The Best Buddies program, which opened an office this year in Holyoke under the leadership of Matthew Andrews, is an internaitonal organization that seeks to match volunteers with those with intellectual disabilities with the hopes that a long-lasting friendship is formed.

Andrews said that Kisiel, who has raised over $1,500, was inspired to take part in the even because her brother, Matthew Kisiel, has an intellectual disability.

Clayton has also raised over $1,500.

Andrews said that the money raised from the event will help the Best Buddies program recruit volunteers.

"This money will help Best Buddies recruit volunteers from throughout Hampden and Hampshire Counties to be matched in one-to-one friendships with peopel have have special needs, thus enabling them access to the multi-faceted benefits of oridinary friendship that many of us take for granted, such as learning important social skills, gaining self-confidence, and feeling supported in times of distress," Andrew said.

Andrews said the 100-mile cycle event will take participants alng "breathtaking views," of the California coastline from Carel to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

First Lady of Califronia Maria Shriver, who serves as Honorary Chairperson for the VHCC, will be participating in the event.

The event will be attended by a number of celebrities, Andrews said.

Last year, actress Julia Roberts, Olympians Carl Lewis, and Greg Louganis were just some of the celebrities that attended the event.

The event will also include an exclusive post-ride celebration to take place at the Hearst Castle Ranch, which will feature a BBQ cookout and private concert by the Goo Goo Dolls.

"It's going to be a really fun event," Andrews said.

For those looking to support the organization, a similar event, which will take place in Boston, will take place this upcoming March.

Called the Volvo Hyannis Port Challenge, the 7th anual event, which includes either a 20 or 90 mile bike ride from JFK Library in Boston to the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port is sponored by Volvo, and benefits the Best Buddies program.

According to Andrews, last year's event managed to rake in over $1.8 million for the Best Buddies Program.

He added that all proceeds from the event go directly to Best Buddies.

Celebrities who made an appearance at the Challenge last year included Teddy Brewsky and Senator John Kerry.

"[The event] usually draws in a huge crowd," Andrews said.

To sign up for the event or for more information, visit the Volvo Hyannis Port Challenge website at