With the arrival of 2017, that marks the close of the 8th annual Rappstar Charity Challenge for World Bicycle Relief. This year, we - and I want to emphasize that it is a collective effort by all of us - raised $73,833. That's over $1,500 more than last year. And one of the most successful years ever for this fundraiser. In what I call "WBR Math," that's 502 bicycles into the field. And with the $-for-$ match through end of the year, that's 1,004 bicycles. Wow. Thank you! Every year, I'm always a bit daunted by the task of trying to do this, and every year people have come through in bigger and better ways to help me. Amazing. I cannot think of a better way to both end 2016 and start 2017.

Some of you may wonder what happens now. Well, it takes me about a week or so to build a spreadsheet of names and donation amounts that I use to make draw prizes from. There's a bit of extra math for the extra chance for those who donated 8 or more bikes ($1,176+), but I suppose I better use that engineering degree for something useful. After that, I use Random.org to generate random (really, random enough) numbers. Then I contact folks by email. If somehow I can't get through on email, I've used Twitter and Facebook in the past to hunt people down as well. So keep your eyes and ears open.

Also, we are again announcing a generous donation of services from my friends at Raymond James & Associates, a complete financial analysis by a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM Professional from Raymond James & Associates out of the Naperville, IL office. Everyone who makes a donation in support of this year's Charity Challenge can take advantage of this. Yes, you read that right, EVERYONE is entitled to this if he/she wants it. If you choose to take advantage of this opportunity, you must initiate the process with Raymond James & Associates by March 31, 2017 and you must complete the process by June 30, 2017.

A couple things to note. You do NOT need to live proximate to Naperville, IL to take advantage of this. This can all be done via phone and email. You DO need to do quite a bit of work to get something out of this. There is a questionnaire to complete and a review meeting (phone or in person) to discuss your results. The more you put in, the more you get. *IF* you want to take advantage of this service, just watch out for the email coming shortly to whatever email you used when you donated.

2016 has been another incredible year for World Bicycle Relief. They now have 321,820 bicycles in the field (and counting). But to think about the impact that you all have made, over 1% of all of those bikes have come just from this fundraiser. Just us. 1% is a lot. That the team at World Bicycle Relief can count on this effort - because of people like you - year after year, that is an incredible difference maker. In the seven years that we have been doing this together, we've raised well over half a million dollars. Wow again! In the past 12 years, World Bicycle Relief has grown from an idea into one of the most impactful and efficient and well respected philanthropic organizations in the world. So that was a powerful reminder of both the need and the impact of these efforts. It's a reminder of the Power of Bicycles! And a testament to the power of you!

So thank you for all that you have given. Thank you again to all of those folks who chipped in prizes (in alphabetical order): Argon18, BoCo Gear, Dome Beauty, First Endurance, Kiwami North America, NormaTec, Quarq, Raymond James and Associates, ROKA, Silca, Specialized, SRAM, and Zipp.

Lastly, I'd also like to thank Dan Empfield and everyone else at Slowtwitch, who basically allow me to use this site to leverage its reach and influence. Without the support of Slowtwitch, I wouldn't raise a fraction of what I do. So a big, big thank you there.

And now, let's put a close on this year's fundraiser by looking ahead with the words of a wonderful African proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

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Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM and federally registered CFP (with flame logo) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing Slowtwitch.com, World Bicycle Relief and Rappstar are independent organizations and is not affiliated with Raymond James & Associates.​