For donors who wonder where exactly their dollars go and who they help, in Exuma they only have to look as far as the school bus that proudly bears the name LN Coakley High.  

Sponsors, supporters and riders who participated in the 2022 Tour de Turquoise raised more than $100,000 to pay for that bright blue bus that has been a student body gamechanger.   

But having wheeled in record success, when founder Howard Chang and sponsoring supporters like author Jeff Todd, Peter Nicholson, the largest shareholder at Grand Isle Resorts & Residences, and Bob Coughlin, founder of Friends of Exuma, vowed to top that figure in 2023, many held their breath, doubting they could do it.  

This week, the announcement came. “Tour de Turquoise 2023 raised more than $165,000, a fantastic new record, thanks to all those who support this grass roots cycling event and especially the second homeowners who have made Exuma their home and want to give back,” said Todd. And co-founder Chang, who introduced the growing cycling event after being a founding member of Canada’s Les Domestiques (‘cyclists who serve’) touches on the appeal of the local event.  

“What our donors love about this event is how the money really touches those who need it,” he said. “Exuma is such an impressive community with so many needs, whether it be in health, education or the environment. Our job is to identify those needs and do our best to invest in causes that have a direct impact on people’s lives.” 

 Among other causes, the event has helped purchase a bus for the local hospital, revitalized a local basketball court, sent children to camp, created a cycling club for students, and most recently, bought that new bus for the high school so students can participate in extra-curricular activities after school. 

But getting to the level of donations the Tour now enjoys did not happen easily. According to Todd, the event only raised modest sums, though it brought the community together, until the big boost in 2021 when it brought in over $100,000 for the first time. 

“That’s when major donors and supporters like Bob Coughlin and Friends of Exuma (an NGO founded by Coughlin) stepped up,” said Todd. “We wouldn’t be where we are without people like Howard Chang and his family and Bob Coughlin, second homeowners who love the community and want to give back to Exuma.”  

Source: DPA News


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