Mayor Matt Grocott led dozens of residents on the first Family Fun Bike Ride on Sunday morning, a 5-mile trek that raised more than $2,000 for San Carlos’ adopted town of Pass Christian, Miss.
Local officials adopted the southern city last September in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation and locals have since raised $37,000 and sent donations and volunteers to Pass Christian, according to Sheryl Pomerenk, president of the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce.
Pass Christian was completely flattened, according to resident Christine Thom, who has traveled twice to assist in cleanup and volunteer efforts.
"Our first trip down, we helped ... people who were throwing away their life’s collection," Thom said. "It gave us a feel for the amount of loss — it’s very hard to describe."
For now, all that remains is the foundations of homes and businesses as locals await FEMA’s green light to rebuild. Roughly 2,300 residents have returned to Pass Christian, a town that more than 14,000 people once called home, Pomerenk said.
Sunday’s bike ride kept the relationship between San Carlos and Pass Christian alive in people’s minds, and provided an opportunity for families to do something together, according to Grocott.
"I wanted to give the community, especially kids, an experience that’s fun, healthy, active, and at the same time, have them raising funds for a good cause," Grocott said.
He said he hopes the ride will become an annual event, regardless of who is named mayor next year.
San Carlos has matched its organizations with those in Pass Christian — such as churches, Rotary clubs, city councils and schools — to create enduring ties. For example, later this month, Rotary members John Watkins and Ray Snider will travel with their wives to bring more funds to the town.
"This is a long commitment," Thom said.