ROCKY HILL - While candidates throughout the region were working toward campaign goals with phone calls and neighborhood walks on Sunday morning, one local candidate took a different approach toward gaining exposure.

Paul Doyle, Democratic candidate for state Senate in the 9th District, hosted the first "Tour de Doyle" campaign bicycle ride along a 33.75-mile course that led Doyle and more than 30 family members, friends and supporters through all five district towns.

Starting in Rocky Hill, the ride took the campaign team on a trail to stops in downtown Cromwell, Main St. and Wesleyan University in Middletown, up to St. Mary's Church in Newington and through Wethersfield before heading back to Doyle's campaign headquarters.

The riders also made a stop to greet organizers and participants of the Two Ferry Metric Century race at Cycling Concepts in Rocky Hill, the sponsor shop for the annual event.

"It was a good way for me to promote exercise and healthy living and increase my visibility at the same time," Doyle said. "When 25 to 30 people ride through a busy intersection with the same shirts on, it's hard to go unnoticed."

In addition to providing Doyle with an opportunity to get his name out there, the event also proved to be an effective way of raising money for the Veterans Home in Rocky Hill and gave Doyle the chance to honor a Newington priest for 25 years of service.

The idea was developed as Doyle was looking for a way to exercise during his campaign efforts. He is an avid runner and biker and realized that he could both promote healthy living and gain exposure while doing something he loved.

Doyle said the ride coincided with several acts passed by the state for the current school year which require healthier options and prevent the sale of soda during the school day.

In addition, he noted that the ride was designed to encourage public officials to become more involved in maintaining personal health, which could actually save the state money through benefits in health care and other insurance costs.

"The ride was a great one and helped show the youthfulness and energy of this campaign," said Ryan Stewart, manager of field operations for the Doyle campaign.

"One of Paul's goals has been focused on promoting healthy living throughout the state and he has helped pass legislation to emphasize this goal. This ride gave him an opportunity to show the voters that he is determined to live by the issues he stands for."

For Doyle, one of the most unique and important aspects of the race was the opportunity to raise private contributions for the State Veterans Home. Those who signed up for the ride were asked to make a personal contribution of their choice to support the cause.

The ride itself was able to raise nearly $350 in walk-in contributions from the participants and Doyle said that they will continue to work toward raising additional funds over the next several weeks, which will go toward the social fund to provide entertainment or equipment for the home.

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