Bristol Stampede tramples fundraising record

BRISTOL — The 20th annual Three Day Stampede, a community event headed up by the Bedard family to collect money for cystic fibrosis research, raised $120,000 this past weekend in and around the Bristol Recreation Park.
“It was a record-breaker,” said co-organizer Bonita Bedard. “Last year we made $105,000 and the year before that was our biggest year, $110,000. This year just blew that number out of the water.”
The $120,000 raised this year adds to the $1.3 million raised during past Stampedes, bringing the grand total to over $1.4 million for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Bonita and David Bedard have held the fundraising event each year since their granddaughter Kayla was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a child.
“We decided we needed to do something to effect change, because survival at that point was just into early adulthood,” Bedard said.
Today, Kayla is thriving and cystic fibrosis research has moved forward.
The Stampede began as a small family fundraiser, a walk-a-thon.
“We would raise $2,800 one year and $6,000 the next, and it was beautiful,” Bedard said.
After several years, the death of a relative left the family with some items that needed to be sold. The family decided to have a lawn sale and donate the money to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation along with the walk-a-thon funds.
Their fundraising efforts had always attracted the interest and goodwill of the family’s neighbors — but that initial lawn sale became the precursor for the mega-event that the Three Day Stampede would grow into.
“What happened was, people would stop by and shop, then they’d say, ‘Oh we have some things at home you can sell and keep the money for (cystic fibrosis research), I’ll run back and get it,’” Bedard recalled with a laugh. “And they did — and they were bringing stuff by the truckful!’”
Over the years, the Stampede has grown organically into a three-day event that many consider a display of the essence of Bristol’s strong community. This year, the event brought together more than 100 volunteers from the Bristol community and as far away as California. Lawn sale donations flowed in over two months’ worth of weekends. That yielded five trailers’ worth of donated items, according to a “Thank You” note posted to the Three Day Stampede’s Facebook page.
On Monday afternoon, the day after this year’s Stampede, five women sat in the back of Bonita’s Main Street business, Vermont Honey Lights, completing tallies for the year.
“It fills so many different functions,” Bedard said of the event’s place in the community. “It’s a massive recycling effort, and on top of that, it serves a really big need in the community to be able to buy reasonably priced items. People can outfit their kids for school, they can outfit a dorm room for kids going to college. It fulfills a need here, and then everything goes to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation which is one of the most efficient medical charities in the country, so that makes us feel very good … and they are making great strides in the research.”
Though some money is still trickling in, the rough tallies for this year are as follows: The lawn sale drew $51,000; the silent auction brought in $29,000; the walk-a-thon raised $5,300; and the 5K run raised $4,000. Cash sponsors donated around $16,000.
“It’s really astounding,” Bedard said. “Everyone that’s involved feels really good about it. We have people who come in and work so hard — and then they thank us for having them come. It’s crazy, we always laugh about it. It’s like, ‘You’re thanking us? No, we’re thanking you.’”
Xian Chiang-Waren is at [email protected].

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