Ride for Kids: Motorcyclists Raise $126K

Motorcycle Benefits

Motorcyclists in California, Arizona and Tennessee brought a total of $126,326 to Ride for Kids events last week. Their efforts fund research and family support programs at the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (PBTF).

Heroes in San Diego

Skies were overcast but spirits were bright at the sixth San Diego Ride for Kids, where over 200 motorcycle participants brought $49,094 for the PBTF.

Mira Costa College in Cardiff again hosted the ride, which offered incredible views along oceanfront beaches and lush valleys.

Nine "stars" led the ride: Leo, Amanda, Lauren, Michelle, David, Steven, Claire, Danny and Alyssa. Everyone gathered afterward to hear from these young people. Said Michelle, the first PBTF scholarship recipient to graduate from college, "You’re the heroes behind the scenes for better medicines that cause less harm to us. Times are hard but you are still here."

In San Diego the motorcycle fundraising efforts were led by:

* Individual: Ken Wahlster, $16,477
* Club/Chapter: GWRRA CA-1N, $6,282
* Motorcycle Business: Bike Bandit, $16,477

Brain tumor survivor David and his mother, Miriam, pitched in by raising $6,567 for the cause. Miriam also served as the patient family liaison for the event.

Volunteers deserve the thanks for a great day for the kids. San Diego’s task force motorcycle leaders were Robert and Janet Lebkuecher, Gary Magee and Christian McCart. Their next Ride for Kids takes place on Oct. 16, 2011.

Surging ahead in Phoenix

Arizona motorcyclists have been riding for the kids for 14 years, and this year they brought $46,345 in contributions to the PBTF.

Over 300 participants came to Desert Ridge High School in Mesa for the event, which honored brain tumor survivors Gaites, Rosa, Keegan, Emily, Alan, Leslie, Megan and Sabrina, along with PBTF scholarship recipient Nikki.

Many of these children joined the motorcycle ride through the desert before returning for the Celebration of Life. Rosa’s mom, Jackie, spoke for many parents when she said, "Rosie can lead a more productive life because of your generosity."

Doctors like Michael Etzl of Phoenix Children’s Hospital are working hard to improve quality of life for kids with brain tumors. He told the crowd that the PBTF "has blossomed into a powerhouse funding research."

Motorcyclists are behind that surge. In Phoenix, the top motorcycle fundraisers were:

* Individual: Mark Tkach, $7,044
* Club/Chapter: GWRRA AZ-A, $4,516
* Motorcycle Business: RideNow Powersports, $19,043

The event also honored the national contributions of Gold Wing Road Riders Association members. GWRRA Chief Operating Officer Melissa Eason received a plaque commemorating over $700,000 in chapter contributions for 2009.

Many thanks went to Betsy Coon, Bunny Rasmussen and Allen and Janet Ingersoll, who led a hardworking group of Phoenix Ride for Kids volunteers. Plans are already underway for next year’s ride on Oct. 16, 2011.

Knoxville celebrates a decade of motorcycle support

The 10th Knoxville Ride for Kids took place on a gorgeous fall day at the tail waters of Norris Dam, with participants raising $30,887 for the PBTF.

Riders were treated to some of the most beautiful roads in eastern Tennessee. Bright blue skies, fall colors and near perfect weather made for a spectacular day.

The post-ride program celebrated the accomplishments of brain tumor survivors Jimmy, Jessica S., Hannah, and Jessica Q., a PBTF scholarship recipient. "Your support is very uplifting," she told the crowd. "I suffer from short-term memory loss and I struggle in college, but I’m proving a lot of people wrong and giving up is not an option."

Researchers aren’t giving up, either, thanks to motorcyclists’ contributions, said Raymond Pais, an oncologist from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

The event’s leading motorcycle fundraisers were:

* Individuals: Greg and Tracey Lawson, $9,542
* Club/Chapter: Hannah’s Army Angels, $11,945
* Motorcycle Business: Honda of Knoxville, $14,146

Many thanks went to the local volunteers who worked all year to organize this event. They were led by Tom and Kathy Peck, Greg and Tracey Lawson, Pat Lawson and Sue Dauber.

The 2011 ride has a new date, July 31, and a new start point, Pellissippi State Community College.