Rebels With a Cause
Biker charity rides belie motorcyclists' tough-guy image.
Each August, a small town in South Dakota's Black Hills becomes the center of the motorcycle universe. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally opened its 71st edition on Aug. 8, but the chrome armada really began to roll into town the week before. It may even be almost the end of the month before the last taillight fades into the distance. Sturgis' official population is 6,442, but during the rally it grows to more than 460,000.
Attending Sturgis is an annual pilgrimage for some bikers. Many more just want to go once to check it out, as the entertainment runs the gamut from concerts to flat-track racing. But even more riders are there to participate in organized charity rides.
Bikers in general tend to be a pretty generous lot. For example, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is the official charity of the Honda Riders Club of America, which has been the presenting sponsor of Ride for Kids since 1991. And in its 30-year association with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Harley-Davidson has raised more than $76 million for the charity through its employees, dealers and customers.
"It's funny to see the burly biker dude giving a little kid a sidecar ride," says Brian Bentley, owner of Brian's Harley-Davidson in Langhorne, Pa., and an organizer of the MDA Ride for Life, "but on some level we are out to prove to society that bikers are not evil or crazy."
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Looking for a way to make the same point? Here are four charity rides scheduled during the Sturgis rally, and six more big charity bike events that prove many riders are really rebels with a cause.
BUFFALO CHIP'S LEGENDS RIDE
Billed as "the ride that rocks," this event is organized by the Sturgis Buffalo Chip campground to raise money for the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame and Sky Ranch for Boys. Things got started in Deadwood, S.D., on Aug. 8. The 43-mile route starts at the Silverado Franklin Gaming Complex in Deadwood and ends at the Buffalo Chip with a reception, art exhibit, live auction and concert. Each year it attracts a number of celebrities, such as comedian Pee Wee Herman and rock singer Steven Tyler. Tickets are $150 per person and are limited to 300 participants. In three years, the Legends Ride has raised more than $150,000.
9TH ANNUAL STURGIS MAYOR'S RIDE
If you have gone to Sturgis to make a nuisance of yourself, hopefully you had a chance to participate in the annual Mayor's Ride to benefit the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department. Starting at the Motorcycle Expo area, the ride follows a route past several Black Hills attractions, including Bear Butte State Park and Orman Dam, Spearfish Canyon and historic Deadwood, and down Boulder Canyon to Sturgis for lunch with Mayor Mark Carstensen. Cost is $161.25, and last year's ride collected more than $10,000 for the fire department.
RUMBLE FOR THE HEARTLAND TOUR
This first ride organized by Lorenzo Cycles and Walk with Heroes to benefit Operation Homefront and Walter Reed Army Medical Center rolled out on Aug. 9 from Fort Devils Tower, Wyo., for an 80-mile run to the Buffalo Chip campground and concert complex in Sturgis. The ride was led by company co-founder Lorenzo Lamas, who piloted the Knockout, a prototype custom motorcycle designed by former Marine and master builder Ralph Randolph. The Knockout will be auctioned in 2012 to support Operation Homefront. Ride participants get a VIP reception at Buffalo Chip and entertainment by Toby Keith and Poison.
HOGS 4 HEROES STURGIS RIDE
Hogs 4 Heroes is a nonprofit working to establish free group counseling and mentor programs for soldiers struggling with physical and emotional scars from service. The group is hosting seven fundraising rides around the country. A 150-mile ride ($100 includes a passenger, T-shirt, lunch, dinner, party and patch) and a 60-mile ride ($25 lunch and the party) will both start in Rapid City, S.D. The longer ride includes Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and Keystone. Both rides will converge at Keystone for lunch, and then end together at Sturgis for a party featuring live music, contests and food.
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Regarding the Patriot Guard Riders, let me clarify a few things.
Anyone can join the Patriot Guard Riders. You do not have to ride a Motorcycle, we affectionately refer to people in cars as "Cagers". You do not have to be a veteran or anything other than an individual dedicated to supporting those who defend our country and assisting to maintain respect for our fallen Heroes in time where others might seek to diminish that level of respect. The Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) will, at the invitation of a family, provide an Honor Guard, for any honorably discharged member of any branch of Military Service from any Era of Service, including Police, Fire Fighters, and EMT's, and for any active member of our Armed Forces, at no charge to the Family.
As far as Charitable Contributions go, PGR is involved in a host of Charities, including but not limited to "Female Soldiers, Forgotten Heroes", "Help on the Home Front, Homes for our Troops", "Wounded Warrior Project", "Wreaths Across America", and many local, and individual acts of assistance within the communities where Patriot Guard Members reside. On the Patriot Guard Website, look for the location specific Forums for your state to see how to participate in the many things taking place.
The Patriot Guard, founded in 2005, has grown to over 247,000 members nationwide and is always glad to welcome more people to it's ranks!
There are sooooooo many charity rides; toy runs; fund raisers; etc., etc., etc., in the State of Connecticut alone that every weekend its hard to decide which events and rides to attend. Bikers are a VERY generous group and the brother/sisterhood among us cannot be compared!! If your not a biker, I could never explain it to you.
Having two boys in the military, and one a fireman, I can only say that "Anyone" that rides for the family of a fallen hero, first responder or a real charity...... Is my hero....
A friend and I just participated in the Autism Awareness Ride in SoCal. And while most people think that "Riding for a Reason" is solely done on street bikes, please read on. My friend and I have started a non-profit organization called The Autism MX Project. We run day camps for families with Autistic kids. We put the kids on 50cc quads and dirt bikes and let them ride to their hearts content. Most of the time you have to pull them away because they are enjoying the stimulation of the new activity. Please check us out. We have only been doing it for a couple of months and the response has been tremendous. Google the Autism MX Project.