FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Building on the success of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in January, Ozark Outdoor Foundation and Arkansas Children’s Northwest announced a weekend festival on Wednesday that will raise funds and awareness for the hospital and its mission to heal Arkansas children.

The event, “OZ CX,” will take place as part of the 2022 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup on Oct. 14-16, which is expected to draw cyclists from more than 25 countries.

In addition to spectator-friendly professional cyclo-cross racing, the OZ CX festival weekend will include 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,” according to Mike Spivey, Ozark Outdoor Foundation president and CEO.

Spivey also says the weekend will be a “party with a purpose.” According to a press release, that purpose is personified by 10-year-old Dash Thompson of Fayetteville. Thompson 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, he 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 Thompson’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.”

According to Shannon Hendrix, senior vice president and chief administrator with Arkansas Children’s Northwest, 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.”

Stacy Hurst, Arkansas’s Secretary of Parks, Heritage and Tourism notes 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 and that this event will “help build on that positive momentum.”