BOONSBORO, Md. (WDVM) — For over a century, San Mar has been a Washington County-based organization providing foster care – and more — in our community. They are eagerly looking to another century ahead.

San Mar is a regional social services agency finding loving homes for kids who need them, mental health services and community support in south Hagerstown neighborhoods. To pay for all of this they stage an annual bike ride on the C&O canal — all 184.5 miles of it. Most riders are from the Maryland area, but some come from far and wide.

Elisa Hermes, development director for San Mar, said, “They come as far away as California, Texas, Colorado, Ohio and Connecticut. It’s been really exciting to see how the word has spread.”

Their support is vital to deliver this important care.

Keith Fanjoy, chief executive for San Mar, said, “San Mar has been a staple of the human services community in Washington County for 138 years. For so long we’ve been known as a foster care organization. But we also provide very important mental health and community-based services.”

The riders have tons of fun getting great exercise on a very scenic route from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. — a journey that takes about four days. The San Mar team said they are so appreciative of the generosity they see.

“With a group of people that are forming a team,” said Hermes, “so they can make a bigger difference in the world and help the needs of children and families that really need hope right now.”

Cheerleaders add to the fun along the bike route. There’s a dinner at Little Orleans, an overnight at the Yogi Bear campground and the finish line in scenic Georgetown. Who, though, is the real winner?

“The work we do every day is essential for local families,” Fanjoy says, “and makes a big impact on the local community and this bike ride is our signature event each year that brings in the dollars that we need to operate.”

The ride is July 10 through 13. Sign up for the great bicycle tour online.