The fourth annual Gran Fondo Asheville, a cycling race to benefit the Friends of the Smokies, was held on July 23 with 500 bicyclists participating. Once again, Equilibar was happy to provide volunteers and to serve as sponsor for the event.
Equilibar engineering manager Tony Tang and inventory specialist Scott Phifer spent the day working at one of the first aid and water stations along the route. “The day was busy but it felt good to get out and volunteer,” Scott said. “We met a lot of great people.”
The Friends of the Smokies supports Great Smoky Mountains National Park by providing needed money and volunteers to protect habitat, wildlife, facilities, and visitors. The park is located within an hour’s drive of Equilibar’s headquarters and includes more than 800 square miles of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. It is home to some of the oldest mountains in the world and has an incredibly diverse and rich ecosystem.
“Equilibar’s corporate giving focuses on education and also the environment, particularly land conservation,” said Jeff Jennings, Equilibar’s founder. “Many of our team members choose to live here in Western North Carolina because of all the outdoor activities that are available. Scott, Tony and other team members are huge mountain bikers, for example, and sometimes go biking after work. Protecting the environment and our public lands is a natural thing for us to do and we believe it also protects our future quality of life.”
Brook trout restoration, water quality monitoring, bear safety programs, and educational outreach are just a few of the Friends of the Smokies’ projects for 2017. In the past, the group has been involved with the reintroduction of elk into the park, trail reconstruction, facilities upkeep and the preservation of important Appalachian and Cherokee artifacts.
For an insider’s view of the 2017 Gran Fondo Asheville, see this Blue Ridge Outdoors article.