While gathering information for my June, 2004 article about the Ararat Motor Corps motorcycle drill team, I learned that the Shrine also includes a motorcycle club called Ararat Cycles. One of the club members, Ben Kenney, provided me with information about the group.
CC: Who are the present officers?
Ben: Ron Facklam is President, William Boynton is Vice President, Paul Brewer is Secretary, and Dan Gilliam is Membership Chairman.
CC: When and where are club meetings held?
Ben: Meetings are on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Ararat Shrine Temple in Kansas City, Missouri.
CC: Ben, do you hold an office within the Shrine or the Ararat Cycles Club?
Ben: I presently am a member of the Divan, which is our Board of Directors for Ararat Shrine. I became involved with the reorganization of the Ararat Cycles to help gain additional membership.
CC: When was the Cycles club formed?
Ben: Ararat Cycles had previously been one of our uniformed units, comprised of members who all purchased maroon Harley-Davidson 883 Sportsters. Prior to that, Ararat Cycles originally started in the late 1960s riding the famed Cushman Eagles. The Cushman Eagles had previously been a part of the Ararat Provost, whose job was to assist in police and security functions for Ararat Shrine. This changed over the years as the Cushmans became harder to acquire and service, and the cycles changed to Kawasakis. In the late 1990s, the Harley Sportsters replaced the Kawi’s.
In January 2004, Ararat Cycles again changed to an open class of motorcycle. We found that a number of current Shriners and new Shrine candidates already owned motorcycles, and it was a great way for the club to grow with a variety of cycles represented. We even have a custom trike with a Volkswagen power train.
CC: How many current members are there?
Ben: We have 40 members at present.
CC: What requirements are there for membership?
Ben: All members must be Shrine Masons in good standing, and have a motorcycle with at least 500 ccs.
CC: Do you have any restrictions as to make of motorcycle?
Ben: No, the majority of our club rides Harleys, but we are also represented by Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and the Volkswagen trike.
CC: How does your club participate in the charitable activities of the Shrine?
Ben: As with all of our Ararat Shrine units and clubs, we support our 22 Burn and Orthopedic Shriner Hospitals around North America, which provide and specialize in free health care for any patient 18 years and younger. The Ararat Shrine presently sponsors 2,600 active patients. This includes one of our most recent, a severely burned young patient that was admitted to our Galveston, Texas hospital within a few hours after being stabilized for the flight. We have various events during the year to raise funds to support our club and Ararat Shrine in general operating funds.
CC: Does the club sponsor or attend events as a group? If so, what events?
Ben: We are most noted for our Shrine Parades that we do in support of area communities who have special celebrations that include parades. On occasion, we are asked to assist with other Ararat Motor groups in the community. We just recently assisted in escorting the homecoming celebration for our local Missouri National Guard returning from Iraq. A number of our members are military veterans and we all feel the pride in celebrating our Armed Forces. We have also been asked to participate in a Mass Motor Escort for the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall that will be here this June, and displayed for all to see.
CC: Do you have group rides or road trips? If so, what are favorite destinations?
Ben: Each month we have a Sunday group ride for all to enjoy that is pre-planned for a day’s journey. We have enjoyed a number of rides to Leavenworth and Lawrence, Kansas; Weston, Missouri; and the East run along the Lewis and Clark Trail heading down by Orrick, Missouri and up to Excelsior Springs.
During the riding season, Friday evenings we enjoy getting together at F.O.G. Cycles, where Frank Hicks, also a Shriner, has fun for all of us to enjoy.
CC: Thanks for the information, Ben.
I mentioned in my article on the Ararat Motor Corps, that the Shriners are a very special organization to me. When she was two years old, my grandniece, Heather, was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Throughout her childhood and adolescence, the Shriners paid for all of the required hospital care, medicine and even her parents’ travel costs from north central Kansas to St. Louis. To inquire about free medical assistance for children, call 1-800-237-5055 or the Ararat Shrine Hospital Committee at 816-923-1319. For more information or to join Shrine of North America or Kansas City’s Ararat Shrine, view their web sites.
Photo courtesy of Ararat Cycles.