FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. (July 20, 2022) – In January, Northwest Arkansas was on the world stage when Fayetteville hosted the Walmart UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships. Building on the success of that historic event, Ozark Outdoor Foundation and Arkansas Children’s Northwest announced today that a weekend festival, with the sport at its center, will raise funds and awareness for the hospital and its mission to heal Arkansas children.
Dubbed OZ CX, the weekend of Oct. 14-16 will feature the 2022 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup and is expected to draw cyclists from more than 25 countries. Walmart will again be the lead sponsor, said Mike Spivey Ozark Outdoor Foundation president and CEO.
“In addition to spectator-friendly professional cyclo-cross racing, the OZ CX festival weekend includes an engaging industry-packed expo and participatory and amateur experiences – including community-focused shenanigans like the OZ CX Costumed Streets Sprints, Corporate and Community Relays, and the OZ KIDS Cross event,” Spivey said.
With food trucks, music, and activities for guests of all ages, Spivey said the weekend will be a party with a purpose.
That purpose is personified by 10-year-old Dash Thompson of Fayetteville. Dash is one of fewer than 30 people in the world diagnosed with Basilicata-Akhtar syndrome and among the more than 200,000 children served by the hospital in Northwest Arkansas. When Arkansas Children’s Northwest opened in Springdale in 2018, Dash was able to see all his specialists just minutes from home cutting back on visits to the hospital’s Little Rock campus about three hours away.
“Arkansas Children’s has been a godsend to our family,” said Dash’s mom, Michael Ann Thompson. “It was a long and stressful journey just getting to the point where we knew a diagnosis. They have provided us with compassionate care from the outset and having the Northwest Arkansas campus has been a tremendous benefit to our family. I couldn’t be more grateful and I hope people will consider donating to this worthy cause to help families like ours who just want to see our children heal and thrive.”
Shannon Hendrix, senior vice president and chief administrator with Arkansas Children’s Northwest said proceeds from OZ CX and any other contributions, regardless of size, will help the hospital provide care close to home for children in the region.
“No Arkansas child is ever turned away from Arkansas Children’s, but reaching every child requires support from the entire Arkansas community,” Hendrix said. “We are so grateful to have been selected as the nonprofit partner for this exciting event and look forward to cheering on the racers as they battle it out in Northwest Arkansas.”
Also attending the press conference was Stacy Hurst, Arkansas’s Secretary of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. Hurst noted that last year’s UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup was a boon for Northwest Arkansas and helped shine an international spotlight on The Natural State.
“We’re excited to again welcome cyclists from around the world to our state and our Northwest Arkansas region,” Hurst said. “The Walmart UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships held earlier this year cemented Arkansas’s national reputation as a world-class destination for cycling, and this event will build on that positive momentum. We at the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism appreciate organizations like Ozark Outdoor Foundation and Experience Fayetteville for helping to promote our great state as a tourism destination and outdoor recreation hub. We are proud to do what we can to help them execute a successful event.”
For more information on events and tickets for spectating at OZ CX, see our calendar link.