The Kansas City Poker Run Motorcycle Rally is an annual event designed to raise awareness of the growing epidemic of youth crime and drug abuse and raise funds for a very real solution to this very real problem. All proceeds generated from The Kansas City Poker Run benefit the Urban Youth Strategies Youth Center. This youth center was started from the vision of Pastor Troy Covey of Solomon's Porch Church in Kansas City, Missouri.
On Saturday, July 22, 2006, when I arrived at Worth Harley-Davidson North for the run, there were already hundreds of bikes in the parking lot ready to roll! I was proud of the biker community once again for turning out to support such a worthy cause. After picking up my registration packet, I went looking for Pastor Troy to get his thoughts on the day.
This is what he had to say: 'This is our 2nd Annual KC Poker Run. We had 283 bikes last year and we are expecting over 500 this year. All proceeds go to the Urban Youth Strategies Center that is a youth center, activity and education center that was purchased last year. The center is still in renovation; don't expect the full renovation to be done until January 2007. Right now there are a few small programs running through there, such as a flight school to teach intercity kids how to fly. Rob Runyon is a flight instructor as well as a West Airline pilot who is training our very first class of intercity kids to fly. It’s really interesting. There will also be an activity center with basketball courts, concerts, rock climbing walls and video arcades. When it’s all said and done it will be open five days a week. In the education part of it, we will act as the community conduit in connecting kids to educational opportunities, helping them to establish grants, financing, college opportunism as well as a tutoring center. It will also be helping kids with their high school and junior high experiences. When it is in full motion, the hours of the center will be 18 hours a day. There are a lot of kids walking the streets in the middle of the night and we want to help solve that.
Overall, our organization is Solomon’s Church, which is the parent organization that puts on the bike rally and has the youth center. We service over 150 people a week with food programs, feeding the homeless, a drug and recovery center, family crisis counseling; many different programs like that. We are a large community service center for the Midtown area. We've been established for a while; as of the end of July we will begin our 8th year. This rally serves to raise the funds for the youth center. We don't have outside support. The burden is on the Church, a little church of 500 people. We use these events as creative ways of income to change the Midtown area.
Transient population is way down as well as crime. I think we have a real significant role in changing that, and now we are going after the kids. You have to reach a child before they can be rescued. That’s our motto—we have to reach a kid before they have to be rescued. That’s why we're doing what we're doing. Next year we expect over 1,000 bikes. People are catching the vision. The biker community is the most benevolent community in the country. That’s why we went to them for help and you can see today we have over 500 people already here now; you can see today they are out in force. They’re having a good time but they still want to help. That’s the real reason they’re here is to help. Then we have the Khrome Cowgirls and our friend Karen, who helps us out so much, we're really excited about their involvement. There are also riders from CMA and the Yamaha Star Riders. There are a lot of clubs that came out to support us today and we want to tell them how much we appreciate the support. We give our heartfelt thanks to all the clubs that have come out to support us.'
Soon after my talk with Pastor Troy, he got on the microphone and thanked everyone for showing their support. He told us a little about the route changes, and then said a prayer blessing us all and asking for a safe trip. We then lined up to roll.
The first stop was at Cannon Chrysler - Dodge in Excelsior Springs. It was quite a sight to see over 500 motorcycles heading down the road. After drawing our card the procession headed on to the second stop at the Civil War Park in Lexington, Missouri. From there we headed to Blue Springs for our third stop at Blue Springs Harley-Davidson where there were lots of things set up for the day. They had sack lunches for sale and free ice cream and a representative from Pig Glow was on hand. We then took a scenic route to Reno's Yamaha Aprilia for our fourth stop and as everyone drew their cards we had a chance to look over the 2007 models. We then headed to our final destination at Winslow's City Market BBQ.
The City Market was alive with bikers! After eating some great grub from Winslow's, we mingled, checked out the vendors like Cajun Leathers, Dry Wash Waterless Car Wash, and Restoration Riders out of Lenexa and were entertained by some awesome stunt riders.
Walking through the crowd, I searched out Jim Pappas who was Pastor Troy's right-hand man and asked him for his thoughts on the day. This is what he had to say: 'We are really excited about the ride. From what I've seen we've really raised the awareness and support for our youth center, Urban Youth Strategies in Midtown KC. We think everyone had a great time today. We are really excited and appreciative. At this time we believe there were between 500-600 people that showed up today. It’s pretty cool. Everyone had a great time and the stops went great. Our goal next year is to have about 1,000 bikes. We have a killer staff, which is an all volunteer marketing staff and they do an awesome job so we‘d like to thank them also for their help. We look forward to next year!'
Paul Marshall from KQRC 98.9 The Rock then took over the microphone. He thanked everyone for being there, told us that it didn't matter what we rode, that we were all 'American Bikers.' He said, 'In the biker world nobody ever forgets the bad, but nobody ever remembers the good we do. Please take a moment to remind everybody we do good things for people and you guys have been a part of that. Thank You!' He then introduced Pastor Troy to the crowd to begin handing out the winners for the day.
The first place winner was Kelly Rector who had a 9 high flush that won her a set of leathers, donated by Worth H-D North. The second place winner was David Estes with a jack-high straight that won him an awesome air compressor donated by J&S Tools. Third place went to John Gyer with 3 aces, winning him a night’s stay at the Holiday Inn on the Plaza. They even gave $50 for the worst hand of the day that went to George Nolan with a 9 high. The oldest rider of the day was Jack Fletcher who is 65 years young and rides a 1999 Harley-Davidson Road King Classic. Pastor Troy then asked who rode the farthest to attend the rally. Brian Palmer, an Army MP, rode 220 miles from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and was awarded $50.
With all the awards handed out except for the bike giveaway, Pastor Troy introduced the band and told the crowd they would play a short set and before announcing the winner of the Harley-Davidson Super Glide. The Rumblejetts then began their first set for our listening pleasure.
Then...the winner of the bike was announced! The big winner for the day was Josh Yamens of Gardner, Kansas! Congrats, Josh, you won a killer looking scoot!
I hope everyone had as good a time as I did and enjoyed themselves. We were riding for a very good cause and those kids will benefit greatly. My hope is that the word spreads and next year we will be able to double what we did this year. Thanks to all who came, rode and donated their time and money. Come back next year and continue to help our youths in need.
Solomon's Porch Church is located at 3600 Walnut, Kansas City, Missouri, 64111 and for more information call (816) 531-7773 or check out their web site at www.kcporch.com.
Little Toto - Khrome Cowgirls WebMistress/Newsletter Editor/Photographer