Black Leaders Detroit hosts fourth annual biking fundraiser from Detroit to Mackinaw City


Michiganders are invited to take on a seven-day, 377-mile bike ride from Detroit to Mackinaw City – all to raise funds and awareness for the nonprofit Black Leaders Detroit.

Ride for Equity will take place Sunday, May 19 through Saturday, May 25. Participants have the option to join for one day, a few days, or the entire week. All money raised will go towards providing financial support for entrepreneurs of African descent in the city of Detroit.


Dwan Dandridge, CEO and founder of Black Leaders Detroit, said, “I really believe in this cause. Our work and our mission is for anybody who believes in fairness. And when we’re able to come together, even in a small way, change really happens.”

Dandridge started the annual fundraising event four years ago. The first year, he was the only person to ride the entire 377 miles. The event has since grown, and in 2023, hundreds of people signed up for part of the ride and 13 people for the entire route – raising a total of $150,000 for the nonprofit.

Dandridge called last year the most challenging but also the most rewarding event yet.

“Last year I fell on day four and had to go to the ER to get stitches in my hand. I got stitched up and went right back to meet up with the rest of the riders and finish the day,” he said.

“Despite that, it was the most rewarding year because we had a diverse group of riders come out with us. They were extremely loving to our team and supportive of the work we do. It’s not just Black people who come out and care about Black entrepreneurs. We have established – and we’re continuing to cultivate – deep, meaningful relationships with people across the state.”

BLD has put precautions in place to make sure the event is safe and accommodating for all riders each year. There’s a police escort (from Detroit to Ferndale); support vehicles carrying luggage, drinks, snacks, first aid supplies, and bike repair equipment; and an RV with a bathroom inside and a sign attached to the back that reads “Cyclists Ahead.”

“We take off in the morning from whatever city we’re in, and we average about 52 miles a day. We typically get to the next city between 2:30 and 5:30 in the afternoon,” he said. “We have a great time. It’s very challenging, don’t get me wrong. But we have a great time riding across the state and seeing beautiful parts of Michigan.”

To get participants ready for the 2024 ride, Black Leaders Detroit is partnering with the Metro 313 Cyclones bicycle club to host training sessions starting in April. For more information about becoming a member of the club and registering for training, visit

The Ride for Equity Ceremonial Kickoff is at 8 a.m. May 19. The ride will begin at the University of Detroit Mercy by 8:45 a.m., travel up Detroit's Avenue of Fashion into Ferndale and back to the university. Cyclists can sign up for the kickoff for $20, a day long ride for $80, or the entire seven-day ride for $250. There will be stops in Flint, Saginaw, Clare, Cadillac, Eastport and Petoskey.

All net proceeds will directly benefit Black Leaders Detroit. Riders will receive a jersey and cycling nutrition during the day-long rides and will be responsible for their own hotel arrangements if staying overnight.

If you have any questions, email For more information about Black Leaders Detroit and to sign up for the Ride for Equity, visit

More about Black Leaders Detroit
Dandridge started the process of launching Black Leaders Detroit in February 2019 – only three months after a life-threatening episode of ventricular tachycardia caused his heart to flatline.

“I have a condition which, under the wrong circumstances, causes my heartrate to increase at a rapid pace. It’s so deadly that last time it happened, I actually died. Thank God I came back from the other side,” he said. “That experience made me realize that though I love helping people I really don’t have time to wait.”

After getting a pacemaker and spending some time healing, Dandridge got together a small group of people (Shannon Gaston, Quan Neloms, Ken Elkins, and Kimberly Uhuru) who would become founding board members of Black Leaders Detroit. They helped him turn his idea into an actual organization – officially becoming a 501c3 nonprofit in October 2019.

“I would describe the organization as a funding vehicle for Black entrepreneurs in both the for-profit and nonprofit sector who are operating in the city of Detroit. We provide funding primarily through grants and no-interest loans,” he said.

Dandridge said he got the idea for the nonprofit because he knows how hard it can be for someone to get a loan to help fund their business or organization.

“There are so many Black Detroiters trying to solve problems that plague our community and are doing it out of pocket,” he said. “At Black Leaders Detroit, they can apply for no-interest loans through our website, and we have a loan officer on staff who works with the applicants. On the grant side, we invite members to help us identify folks who are doing amazing work in the city.”

Dandridge said one of his favorite stories since starting the nonprofit was when he and the team presented a grant to Dante Williams, founder of Cutz Lounge The Grooming Shop on Grand River Avenue.

“Dante was nominated by one of our board members, and, when I went into the barbershop to surprise him, he told me he had been praying for some way to get the money they needed to stay open. Then we came in with a check for $2,500 – which was the amount of money he needed. He was just blown away,” said Dandridge.

“To hear him say that, it was really affirming, and it made me realize that this nonprofit and our members are really meeting a huge need in the community.”

Anyone can become a member of Black Leaders Detroit by donating at least $1 each week – or $52 a year – to the organization. So far, nearly $450,000 has been raised through these weekly member donations, which has contributed to a total of $2.8 million distributed to more than 500 Black-led businesses and nonprofits since October 2019.

The first quarter of 2024 has been Black Leaders Detroit’s most successful quarter yet. The organization approved $466,000 in no-interest loans and presented $255,000 in grants from January through the end of March. During Black History Month alone, they gave away a total of $110,000 – presenting a grant to a different nonprofit every weekday during the entire month.

To donate to Black Leaders Detroit and become a member of the organization, visit Follow the nonprofit on social media at and