Committee gearing up for Amgen start

Group looking for volunteers, sponsors
By: Jenifer Gee Journal News Editor
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May 17 is just around the corner and a committee of local leaders is working fast and hard to prepare for the world-class bicyclists, their entourages and the potentially thousands of their fans to descend on Auburn. The Bike Auburn Local Organizing Committee is comprised of 14 members of the Auburn business community and law enforcement. The group is tasked with raising money to promote the Auburn start of Stage 3 of the 2011 internationally known Amgen Tour of California eight-day bicycle race that has drawn cycling superstar Lance Armstrong. Between now and May, the committee plans to host fundraisers to gather donations and support for city efforts to promote Auburn's involvement in the race and to meet race requirements. ``First and foremost we have to provide Amgen their requirements,'' said John Ruffcorn, captain of the Auburn Police Department and chairman of the committee. ``Secondly, we need to promote the city of Auburn. Hopefully by doing the first two, we enrich some of the business community.'' Ruffcorn said the committee must pay for hotel and other expenses of Amgen officials when they come into town. So far they've spent about $1,500 on rooms, some equipment and some travel for the Amgen committee to scout Auburn, Ruffcorn said. He added that 90 of the 95 rooms at Auburn's Holiday Inn are filled with Amgen officials the night before the start of Stage 3. The committee pays for those rooms. Ruffcorn said the committee has about $8,000 so far, which includes a $5,000 loan from the city of Auburn, to put up several Amgen officials in an Auburn hotel. The committee received a $5,000 sponsorship from the Downtown Auburn Business Association as well. Ruffcorn said the committee hopes to reach out to Sacramento and Modesto community leaders to create a joint marketing plan to promote the race's pass through the Northern California area. The start of Stage 3 in Auburn will end later that day in Modesto. Brian Roat, executive producer of AboutHere.TV, said group advertising is among his goals as the committee's marketing director. AboutHere.TV provided a jumbotron for Downtown Auburn spectators to watch the race the day it passed through the city. ``If somebody is going to spend a dollar in advertising, if we all spend a dollar in advertising, then let's put our dollars together and get the best bang out of our buck,'' Roat said. The committee is also looking for in-kind donations and volunteer help. Ruffcorn said one of the race requirements is to provide 600 box lunches the day of. He said the committee has already received a commitment from PlacerGrown to provide 600 boxes with their logo on it at no charge. Ruffcorn said it's a good example of how the committee is hoping to promote Auburn. He hopes local restaurants will bid to supply the meals. ``It lets them know that our meals are provided from locally sustainable business here in our community,'' Ruffcorn said. Doug Cahill, a volunteer with the Auburn Police Department and volunteer director for the committee, said volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks including operations, spectator assistance, VIP and hospitality support, traffic and pedestrian control, parking and direction assistance on the day of the race. So far about 20 people have piped up to volunteer. At last year's event, when the tour passed through Auburn, Cahill estimated that between 225 and 250 volunteers were out and about providing traffic and pedestrian control. This year, they're looking for more. ``As a Stage 3 start city, we are looking for 300 volunteers this year,'' Cahill said. The committee will make announcements about fundraising events as they are scheduled. Ruffcorn said he's excited that Auburn will be on a national and international stage, May 17, the day of the Stage 3 start. The city was featured on a two-week rotation as the featured city on Amgen's website and will continue to get recognition on the Web through the race. He added that the committee will continue work up through the race and plan at their Thursday meetings. ``These are some wonderful and dedicated individuals who really have the city's interest in mind,'' Ruffcorn said. ``Everyone here loves the city, lives here, works here and truly wants to make this a special day.'' Reach Jenifer Gee at ---------- What to help when the Amgen Tour of California comes to town? To volunteer, send your name and e-mail address to ---------- What to be a local sponsor? Contact the Bike Auburn Local Organizing Committee to sponsor Auburn's efforts as the start of Stage 3 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California. Call (530) 887-2111 or visit ----------