St. Helens High School marching band is music to our ears at the 2019 Seattle to Portland

The St. Helens Band Program gets ready for a performance

Every July, thousands of excited bike riders embark on a 206-mile journey during the Kaiser Permanente Seattle to Portland presented by Alaska Airlines (STP). The experience means a lot of different things to a lot of people. For some, it’s a bucket list item, or something they’ve always yearned to try for the first time. For others, it’s a celebration of remission, a memorial to a loved one, or an opportunity to bond with a riding partner. But for many of our community partners whose businesses and organizations are located along the ride route, the STP is an annual fundraiser that helps support their programs and services, and it’s a wonderful way to build community.

One of Cascade’s long-time community supporters is St. Helens High School. Located approximately 28 miles from Portland, St. Helens hosts a food and rest stop for hungry riders as they near the end of their journey. Each year, STP registration fees help provide compensation for the school’s tireless efforts to set up and operate the food stop. That means students, staff, and community volunteers start planning logistics as early as January! And when the big weekend finally rolls around, they work from Friday morning until Sunday evening to set up, prepare food, and generally offer support to thousands of riders who pass through on the way to Portland. 

At St. Helens, the funds raised from their annual participation in the STP go toward supporting the school’s marching band program. Kathy Hoffman, parent to four marching band students that have attended St. Helens over the years, says the STP has always been an integral part of making sure the marching band program is an enriching experience for students. “The band program uses the STP money as one of our base fundraisers. We travel to many locations to perform,” says Kathy. “We have been to Seattle, Las Vegas, Disneyland, Idaho and all over Oregon competing each year.” 

Like many school art programs, the band program at St. Helens considers fundraising opportunities as critical to its success. Kathy says that “the STP has been, and always will be, one of our largest fundraisers, and without it we wouldn’t be able to afford to keep this awesome educational program going.” She also reminds us that the real impact is greater than just the travel opportunities. “We have all heard how the arts create a balanced learning environment for our students, and it’s a true fact,” says Kathy. “We value the arts programs and have to fundraise to keep them afloat.” 

St. Helens High School’s story is just one that marks the road from Seattle to Portland. Countless other schools, churches, nonprofits, and small businesses come together to volunteer their time in order to make the whole ride a memorable experience for all. Every rider that stops for a sandwich or a rest break creates an opportunity for each organization to build community and spread the word for their cause, ultimately resulting in a chain of support all the way to Portland. Without all of this community support, the STP just wouldn’t be possible.  

In addition to supporting dozens of community organizations along the way, the STP is also a fundraiser for Cascade and Washington Bikeseducation, advocacy, and riding programs. STP registration fees help support efforts to make Washington a place where all people can experience the joy of riding a bike within safe and connected communities. To learn more about supporting Cascade’s nonprofit programming, visit cascade.org/donate.  

We look forward to seeing you on the road to Portland!

Diana Bryant's picture
Diana Bryant