On Thursday evening, 27 college students are set to sleep at after a 66-mile ride from Napa. But it’s the bike rides – 67 days worth – that came before Thursday’s trip that makes the cyclists’ accomplishment worthy of awe.
The Mill Valley stop-over, coupled with a finishing ride to San Francisco on Saturday, caps a bike ride of more than 4,100 miles, from Baltimore to San Francisco, to raise more than $100,000 for cancer research through Baltimore-based 4K For Cancer.
The cyclists will have plenty on their minds when they lay their heads at Scout Hall Thursday and Friday nights. But they might surprised to learn that the building is 111 years old, and served as a saloon, a livery stable and a laundry drying shack in the early 1900s.
And if they take a close look around, the cyclists might notice that the building at 177 E. Blithedale Ave. sure could use some work – make that a lot of work. Scout Hall needs seismic upgrades, disabled access improvements, new bathrooms, new kitchen, a new roof and new electrical and plumbing systems. Oh, and termite and dry rot repairs.
“We’re pretty much taking it down to the studs and rebuilding it,” said Sue Moxon, who oversees the effort to raise the $1.2 million needed to overhaul the building. Moxon sits on the board of nonprofit Mill Valley Scout Hall Inc., which owns Scout Hall.
The five-year-old campaign has raised about $500,000 so far, mostly through more than 500 individual donations. It got a major boost when an anonymous donor awarded Scout Hall a $240,000 matching-funds grant and the fundraising effort was able to match it.
“That was huge,” Moxon said.
The board is amplifying its fundraising efforts this year, with a mailer expected to go out to every residence in town next month.
The hall is heavily used by a host of local groups beyond the scouts (and isn’t affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America), serving as the lone dedicated youth center in Southern Marin since 1919, Moxon said. It also houses the offices of the .
Moxon said Scout Hall’s use as a free place to stay for some cancer-fighting young cyclists perfectly exemplifies its role in the community.
“Having organizations like Scout Hall step up and provide shelter and food is huge for us,” said David Conover, the group’s executive director.
Conover’s organization connected with Scout Hall through Mary McQuilkin, a Mill Valley native who graduated in 2009 from Johns Hopkins University, 4K For Cancer’s birthplace. McQuilkin’s father Charlie was an assistant scout leader with Eric Erickson, the City of Mill Valley’s finance director and a member of the Scout Hall board.
The group needed an emergency place to stay because of a last-minute cancellation in 2009, and Scout Hall has hosted the cyclists every year since.
This year, a $300 donation from the will help Scout Hall feed the cyclists as well.
For Moxon, the Scout Hall renovations can’t come soon enough. While the remains a hub of local activities, Scout Hall plays a vital role for local youth groups. And the American Red Cross has designated Scout Hall as an emergency shelter once the renovations are finished, a role it played during the disastrous fire on Mount Tam in July 1929.
“This place is a Mill Valley landmark, and we’re making a community-wide appeal to help us restore it,” Moxon said.