More Than Just a Trophy: Little 5 Partnership With United Way Gives the Race New Purpose


This year’s Little 5 riders are racing for more than a trophy. Through a partnership with United Way of Putnam County, each team is working to raise money for local nonprofits for the first time in recent history.

United Way of Putnam County serves the community by connecting with and offering funding to other local nonprofit organizations, agencies and social services.

Each of the 11 teams competing in the race on April 27 are aiming to raise as much money as possible as a team and individually. Prior to the race, teams are meant to try to raise as much money as possible on an online form. During the race, each rider has the opportunity to have money pledged to them from outside sources for each lap completed. The teams and individual riders will then receive points for the amount of money they raise in the two fundraisers. As of Tuesday night, Alpha Phi had raised $405, the most out of any of the teams. Individual fundraising has yet to be reported.

Executive Director of United Way of Putnam County Chris Flegal came up with the idea for the partnership.

Until this fall, Flegal was a member of DePauw’s School of Music staff, and had volunteered as a mechanic for Little 5 the past three years. This year he decided to bring his work with United Way and his love for the race together.

“I've always thought that there should be a philanthropic community impact angle with Little 5,” Flegal said. “When I transitioned into United Way, the big thing I saw we do is health. That means a focus on access to health-related things and promoting healthy lifestyles like cycling so for me there seemed to already be a connection.”

The fundraising concept is not an uncommon one. Little 5 Co-chair Mason Seeger described the individual aspect of the fundraiser as being similar to sponsoring a marathon. “In a marathon (for) however many miles you run, people donate money. That's sort of the same thing we're doing here. The race is about 40 laps, so people will pledge money per lap for the riders.”

Flegal said, “Not only are they raising funds for a really good cause, but they're also competing for Little 5 race points.”

Junior Shelby Bricker, a member of Alpha Phi’s team, was initially concerned with how big of a role the points could play in the outcome of Little 5. She said “Our biggest fear was that a house with a team who doesn't bike or doesn't score, might win Little 5 just with the fundraising.”

However, Flegal explained that it will be impossible to win the race through donations alone.

After receiving some clarification, Bricker said, “I think it's a source of motivation for the girls in my house to be like ‘If we push fundraising that not only helps the community but it also helps our riding.’”

Overall, Bricker said she is excited to compete this year,especially with the partnership with United Way. “I think it helps with being competitive. It gives the whole house something to be excited about as opposed to the four or six girls on the bikes.”

Seeger agrees, “It’s nice to be able to see an event that's usually kind of friendly competition going to a little bit more than just winning a trophy. The end result is no matter who wins, people are actually getting helped out by this.”