A. Mark Gadue is responsible for the success of "Read to Ride," a summer reading incentive program for children aged 6-14. Gadue started the program in July 1995 and oversees its operation along with his sister, Laurie Gadue Morgan. He is concerned with addressing the high family illiteracy rates in Vermont. The mission of the program is to foster literacy in all children and help them to become successful, passionate readers.
The guidelines of the program are simple—every child must read a book to receive a chance to win a bicycle. The parents of the child must verify that the child read the book and submit a free entry form to the participating sponsor, school, library or organization. At the end of the summer, Gadue collects all entries and winning names are selected at random in a drawing for bicycles and prizes.
"Read to Ride" has been an overwhelming success. Hundreds of children participate in this program. More than 1,500 books were read in the first year, which indicated that the program has great potential. In successive years, Gadue has expanded his program to include the involvement of libraries and other sponsors, which increased readership to 18,500 entries. Further plans for expansion of the program include making the reading incentive accessible to all youth, especially disadvantaged children. With the outpouring of support that Gadue has received from area business willing to donate time and resources to the program, it is likely that "Read to Ride" will continue to grow.
Fliers advertising the "Read to Ride" program encourage youth to read as many books as they can before August. Several students proudly claim to have read more than 100 books within this time. The students are allowed to enter a separate entry form for every book they read, thereby enhancing their chance to win a prize. Winners of prizes in August are announced by the local press and on posters in libraries and schools.
In the midst of the "Read to Ride" program, Gadue finds time to own and run his business, Gadue's Dry Cleaning. The program is a large undertaking for a small business entrepreneur to maintain, but Gadue draws on the continued support of his employees and family. He also receives positive encouragement and support from professionals and parents who children and students have participated in "Read to Ride." His hope for children to read when they otherwise may choose not to do so is a measure of his belief that children who read are better able to think and succeed in life.