As one sponsor of the Quad-City Times Bix 7 put it, the pandemic is no time to back down from the community.
The first-ever virtual running of the Davenport road race is not discouraging the companies that sponsor the popular event. In fact, the sponsors were involved in the decision and are standing firmly by this year's race.
“Now more than ever, it is critically important that we all step up to play a part to help aid, protect and support the health of our fellow Iowans and the communities we serve," said Lisa Reisen, manager of external affairs for Iowa-American Water, a Gold Medal Sponsor of the Bix. "So many organizations in our service communities are doing so much good caring for people and saving lives as well as finding new avenues to promote our long-time community events that fund valuable community services during these challenging times.
"The fact is, during a pandemic, the community’s needs don’t go away, they become greater.
“As a longtime supporter of all of the Bix race events and Street Fest, and as the sponsor of the Bix at 6 training runs, we recognize the importance of our continuing to support a community event that means so much to so many people and our community."
Race director Michelle Juehring said sponsors were involved in the decision-making process in going virtual, adding, "We knew we couldn't do the race without our sponsors."
Debbie Anselm, publisher of the Quad-City Times — title sponsor of the race, said the decision was easy.
"The Quad-City Times Bix 7 is tradition. It’s a part of who we are," Anselm said. "As the title sponsor, it was never of question of if we would support a virtual race, but how can we make the most of a virtual race for everyone involved."
Other sponsors had specific ideas, including two of the popular vendors at the post-race party that's typically celebrated in the parking lot of the Times.
Whitey's Ice Cream, which has sponsored the Bix for most of its 47-year-history, asked to include coupons for free popsicles in the race packets, Juehring said. Chick-fil-A also volunteered coupons for free sandwiches, another post-race staple.
"We are thrilled to continue supporting the Bix 7 during this extraordinary year," said Annika Tunberg, vice president and director of marketing for Whitey's. "We have been sponsoring the Bix for about 40 years and are happy we were able to keep that partnership going for the virtual race."
Many race sponsors gave financial support, knowing the race provides many free entries to groups, such as Arrowhead Ranch and United Way of the Quad-Cities in addition to other charitable support.
"Our sponsors said: 'We support you. This is great for the community,'" Juehring said. "To have them stay with us at this hard time — Wow."
The loyalty to the race comes not only from local businesses, several said, but also from those they employ.
"We have sponsored the Arconic Jr. Bix since its inception more than two decades ago," said John Riches, communications and public affairs manager for Arconic's Davenport Works. "The Junior Bix is really our premier sponsorship in the Quad-Cities.
"While we have reduced our sponsorships, it was important for us, our employees and their families that we continue to support the Arconic Jr. Bix."
The sponsor of the Quick Bix, Prairie Farms, is standing by the race for the 14th year.
“We’re living in unprecedented times, and we’ve all had to adapt in ways that fit the needs of our lives, our work, our business and our community," said DeMetria Isabel, marketing specialist for Prairie Farms. "The heart and soul of the Bix is our community and right now what’s important for our community is being safe.
"Our dedicated partners at Bix 7, like Michelle Juehring, (former race director) Ed Froehlich, Laura Torgerud and countless others want nothing more than to see Bix 7 continue, even in the midst of uncertainty; and they’re doing a wonderful job navigating a difficult situation while still providing the race we all know and love in the safest way possible.”