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Highway Hammers Habitat for Humanity Tool Run

Written by  October 31, 2004

You couldn’t have asked for a nicer day as bikes began rolling into the parking lot at Habanero’s Mexican Restaurant in Lee’s Summit, Missouri for the Highway Hammers Habitat for Humanity Tool Run.

I enjoy a good old fashioned poker run or dice roll as much as the next guy, but when a run organizer throws something new into the mix, you’ve got to applaud them for their effort and creativity, which is exactly what Ben Helt and his crew from Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity did on Sunday, October 3, 2004.

Rather than sponsoring a traditional poker run to raise money, they put together a Tool Run, complete with tool belt (printed on paper) and various tool stickers that riders could draw at each stop and stick on their tool belt sheet for a chance to win some great prizes.

“We ended up selling 114 hands (tool belts) to 95 people on 73 bikes. We actually sold out of hands. After costs, we raised around $2,000, which was right in our target area. We want to get this event established as a way to raise both funds and awareness for Habitat for Humanity,” said Ben.

Registration started at 11:30 a.m. at Habanero’s and riders were soon on their way to the first tool stop at the Old Town Marketplace in Grain Valley. After drawing their tools, riders were invited to take the “Figure 8 Challenge,” which was setup in the parking lot by Clarence and Pat Wildes, of Rolling Wheels Training Center, LLC. Margaret and I, riding two-up, successfully managed to make our way through the course before heading to the next stop at the VFW Hall in Sugar Creek, which was sponsored by none other than Cycle Connections Online Motorcycle Magazine.

At our stop, Wayne Thompson, one of my partners in crime, had riders draw their tools, and then invited them to toss darts at our electronic dartboard for a chance to win Cycle Connections t-shirts and coozies. Our booth was so busy when we got there; Margaret volunteered to hang out and help work the booth while I headed on to the final stop at MidAmerica PowerSports Plus.

One of the first things I noticed when I pulled up was the huge Biker’s Roundup semi-truck and trailer in the parking lot next door. The parking lot also had a row of hay bales to mark off the Mini-Chopper drag racing strip. When I pulled in, Ben was busy making announcements over the PA system and Curtis, owner of MidAmerica PowerSports Plus was busy greeting riders and offering to dyno run their bikes for only $20! What a bargain! What made the dyno testing even greater is that you could relax inside the shop and watch the technician dyno your bike on a closed-circuit TV monitor. Just ask Bob Bieker, and his riding buddies, who looked on as the technician put Bob’s 2004 Yamaha Roadstar 700 through the test. How cool is that!

After drawing your final tool and turning in your tool belt to see what prizes you won, there were several activities in which you could participate. You could get in line for the discounted dyno, hop on one of the mini-choppers and race your buddy to the finish line (watch that front brake), or shop inside the store where several great bargains awaited you. Several families, who I found out later were in the process of having their homes built with the help of Habitat for Humanity, held up handmade signs thanking all the bikers for their support.

I had the opportunity to chat with Billy Walker, Chairman of the Biker’s Roundup, who told me that Kansas City is their headquarters and their organization consists of over 3,500 motorcycle clubs. Their organization is governed by By-Laws that are created by the motorcycle clubs that attend the rally and the Winter Meeting. They are the largest camping rally that changes location every year, and every ten years the event returns to Kansas City, which from what I understand will be in 2007. One of their organization’s main goals is to support their charity, God’s Wheels Inc., by hosting a food drive and feeding the community in which the roundup is held every year. What a great organization! After talking with Billy, I also had the pleasure of meeting Zodiac club member, Carl Criswell, who showed me his gorgeous custom painted 2001 Suzuki GSXR1300 Hayabusa. What a bike!

While hanging out in the parking lot, I ran into Debbi Allen a.k.a. Little Toto, who is the web mistress, newspaper editor and club photographer for Women in the Wind - Khrome Cowgirls of Kansas City. She told me that a friend of ours, Lisa Brenek, who I’ve ridden with on more than one occasion, has moved to Texas to help her mother and is now the Service Manager at Bell County Harley-Davidson in Temple, Texas. Lisa is one of the original founders and was the club President. Little Toto also informed me that Lindsay Popper, Vice-President and another founder of the club, had assumed the role of President. We’re really going to miss Lisa, and we wish her the best of luck. She’s one of the coolest and craziest women I’ve ever met!

As the event was wrapping up, Ben stated, “The tentative date for next year's event will be the first Sunday in October, which is October 2, 2005. A big thanks to all of our sponsors, especially Cycle Connections Magazine!”

On behalf of the entire Cycle Connections crew, we take our hats and helmets off to Ben Helt and volunteers from the Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity, all the great sponsors and especially those of you who rode in the event and showed your support. I can hardly wait until next year’s Tool Run, which I’m sure will be even bigger and better!

Story by Mike Schweder

Photos by Mike Schweder and Wayne Thompson