Ride for the Arts: Cyclists hit the pavement Sunday for a good cause!

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- As if the beautiful weather wasn't enough, thousands of cyclists found another reason to ride on Sunday, June 1st. Bicyclists got some exercise and some fresh air -- and also supported the growing arts community in southeastern Wisconsin.

Cyclists on Sunday had their helmets on and their pedals primed for the 34th annual United Performing Arts Fund's "Ride for the Arts."

"It's glorious! It really is. It’s a great way to promote the performing arts, to celebrate what we have here, right in our backyard, that impacts the entire region," UPAF's President and CEO Deanna Tillisch said.

Tillisch says the money raised through pledges gathered by the cyclists will fund a variety of arts programs and organizations.

"UPAF is critical to the sustainability of the 15 groups that we support. We are the largest donor for each one of those groups. So, they rely on us to keep the lights on," Tillisch said.

These groups will educate some 400,000 young people this year alone!

"These kids aren’t getting arts education in schools, and so this is a good way to supplement it. We know that arts education is critical for kids -- particularly with developing their EQ, or Emotional Quotient," Tillisch said.

Kent Tess-Mattner says he's participated in the "Ride for the Arts" since the beginning, 34 years ago!

Over the years, he says he's watched the event grow from a small ride for serious cyclists into what it is now.

"It’s developed into something where they have something for every distance, for every age, for every ability, and you see multi-generations out riding, which is really fun," Tess-Mattner said.

When you roll the fun into a fundraiser for the arts...

"It’s better for our society, as a whole. The more culture and arts that people can get exposed to, I think the better off we’ll all be," cyclist David Mikec said.

In 2013, the UPAF Ride for the Arts raised more than $11 million.

This year's goal is $11.7 million.

If you were unable to participate in this year's Ride for the Arts event -- no worries! You can still make a donation to benefit the United Performing Arts Fund and arts organizations in southeastern Wisconsin.

CLICK HERE to make a donation.