The Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy is preparing for their biggest fundraiser of the year, the Ferst Annual Lewis Grizzard and Catfish Memorial Bike Ride, which will take place Oct. 6.
The goal of the Ferst Foundation is to provide age-appropriate books to every child under the age of five in Coweta County, according to Pat Tidwell, chairman of the board.
The race will take place at the Moreland Mill, and the mass start time is at 8 a.m. Riders can take part in either the 12-mile, 25-mile or 66-mile rides.
Those who register before the day of the race will pay $36 per rider, which covers the cost of books a child will receive for one year. Registration on the day of the race will be $40.
The Coweta Ferst Foundation started in 2005 and since has given out 238,969 books, according to Tidwell.
The original Ferst Foundation began in Madison, Ga., by Robin Ferst, who had a hearing disability and used books as an escape, according to Tidwell.
Volunteers administer the program and raise funds in each Georgia county that chooses to have a Ferst Foundation chapter.
A committee of educators chooses what books are sent out, and all the books have to have won an award. Children who are registered receive a different book in the mail every month until they turn 5, according to Tidwell.
Children registered since birth will receive a total of 60 books. Any child can register for the free books.
“It doesn’t matter what house they live in or what kind of background they are in, they have a shared experience,” Tidwell said.
Tidwell said the most important thing that prepares children for school is to be read to and read themselves.
“Parents are the first teachers. If they exhibit to children the importance of reading, it can help them be more successful,” Tidwell said.
The Ferst Foundation is currently wrapping up its annual coin drive in Coweta schools. The schools set up large jugs, and the students have two weeks to donate for the Ferst Foundation.
At the end of the two weeks, United Bank will count the money donated. They award $100 to the winning school at the elementary, middle and high school levels, according to Tidwell.
Last year, Coweta students raised nearly $13,000 through the coin drive. Brooks Elementary, Madras Middle and Newnan High School raised the most in their categories.
Currently, 2,700 kids are registered to receive books in Coweta County. However, Tidwell said their goal is for every child in Coweta under 5 to be registered.
Johnnie May Welch, chair of the registration committee, said that they want all children reading before they start school.
“The number one predictor of school success is being able to read,” Welch said.
Their biggest registration event is coming up at the end of October. They will be at the Munchkin Masquerade in downtown Newnan on Halloween to register new children.
Last year, they were set up outside the Carnegie Library and registered nearly 300 new children, according to Welch.