Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

3rd Annual Ride for Ryan

Written by  June 30, 2005

The Ride for Ryan is a memorial ride for Ryan Consolver of Union Star, Missouri, who tragically died in a motorcycle accident on August 11, 2002, at the age of 24. Held each year in St. Joseph, Missouri at the time of Ryan’s birthday, the event provides scholarship funds for young people who aspire to careers in the construction industry. I became aware of the ride in March while covering Kansas City’s World of Wheels Show where Ryan’s family had entered his beautifully customized Fat Boy and truck. Ryan’s mom, Janis, told me his story, and I was moved to share it with our readers in a May article I wrote calling attention to the June 4 ride.

On the morning of the ride, Mother Nature provided my wake-up call. Thunder rumbled, and heavy rain pounded the roof of my Lee’s Summit, Missouri, house. Fortunately the storm had passed by the time I needed to head for St. Joe, 80 miles to the north. I arrived at St. Joe Harley-Davidson to find about 40 bikes staged in the parking lot. As it became apparent that the rain was finished for the day, more and more bikes arrived, filling the parking area to capacity and resulting in a very busy time for the volunteers handling registration. In addition to paying the $15 fee to ride and participate in the poker chip drawing, many bought Ride for Ryan T-shirts.

Before the ride began, Janis welcomed the riders and thanked everyone for their generous support. She introduced some of the scholarship recipients to the audience. She also introduced Gordy Black, President of the Tribe of Judah motorcycle ministry in Ireland. Gordy was scheduled to speak the following day at the 9th Annual Biker Sunday service at Grace Evangelical Church and had changed his flight schedule to arrive in time for the ride.

Another rider was very deserving of special attention. Eight weeks earlier, Mike Wallace had been severely injured in a motorcycle accident. Mike’s doctor had told him that he would have to learn to walk all over again as a result of broken hips and pelvis and that it could be a year before he was back on his feet. Mike was determined that he would be riding again in time for the Ride for Ryan. Through persistent and painful effort, he accomplished this amazing feat. He bought a new motorcycle one week before the ride, and was able to ride with the group. Janis presented Mike with a special award, a hospital gown with a H.O.G. patch sewn on the front.

As motorcycles arrived, colorful balloons had been tied to the handlebars. At noon, everyone mounted up with Brad, Ryan’s brother, at the front on Ryan’s Fat Boy. Ryan’s dad, Rick, and Janis were next in line. On cue from Janis, the balloons were released as the bikers’ way of saying “Happy birthday, Ryan!” All of the participants rode as one big group, providing the residents of St. Joseph with a wonderful parade. Throughout the ride, local law enforcement officers did a great job of providing escort service, blocking traffic at intersections along the way. The 88-mile route took the riders through some really nice rolling hills and curves to the north and east of St. Joseph and through Union Star where the Consolvers live. Along the way there were a couple of stops to draw poker chips and gas up if necessary. As we cruised the area where Ryan used to love to ride, I know that those who knew and loved him felt a strong sense of his presence.

The ride concluded at Las Palma’s in St. Joseph where food and beverages were available. There was a silent auction, and many door prizes were given out. Those who drew the top three totals in the poker chip drawing received prizes of $200, $100, and $50. The Pony Express H.O.G. Chapter and Greater Kansas City H.O.G. Chapter each donated $100 to be given to the person who had ridden the farthest and the participant who was farthest from home. That money was donated back to the scholarship fund by two guys who had made the 140-mile ride from Lincoln, Nebraska, to St. Joe and by Gordy who was a little over 4,000 miles from home.

I got some additional information from Janis after the ride.

CC: How many participated in the 3rd Annual Ride for Ryan?
Janis: There were 353 people registered and over 240 bikes.

CC: Who will receive the scholarships this year?
Janis: They will go to Ryan Beard, Craig Moran, Zane Fadden, Brandon Williams, Jacob Schneider and Michael Snodderly.

CC:: What sponsors should be recognized?
Janis: There were several businesses that donated and advertised on our porta-potty trailer. I’m afraid I’d leave someone out if I tried to list them all. The main sponsors are St. Joe Harley-Davidson and Las Palma’s.

CC: Janis, when did you get your motorcycle license and how did it feel to ride near the front of such a large group?
Janis: I got my license in August after taking the class at Maple Woods Community College in K.C. I didn’t worry that I was among the lead of a pack of several hundred bikes. I focused only on the two bikes ahead of me, my husband Rick and my son Brad. They both took turns being the lead biker, and I asked them to move to the right as we approached Highway 6 so I could take the lead into St. Joe. It turned out that they did not comply with my request, so I had to pass them! My girlfriend behind me said to herself, “You go girl!” and had tears in her eyes as I blew them away! I felt pretty cool too!

CC: Considering the circumstances of Ryan’s passing, it’s remarkable that your family has remained involved in motorcycling. I’m sure it’s difficult to explain, but we would be interested in any comment you may have about that.
Janis: The first thing my husband and I did when we learned of the tragic accident was talk about not blaming each other for selling Ryan the bike Rick had owned. He could have very well been killed in a car or on the construction job site. You don’t quit driving or working when someone you love dies from those kinds of accidents. God chose to take him while he was doing something he loved. I felt we should continue also doing bike riding in his memory “for him” thus “Ride for Ryan” was the perfect name of our ride. After attending a support group for parents that have lost children, I started to feel depressed and somewhat like an inadequate mother. All the other mothers were doing neat things in memory of their children such as memorial flower gardens, business cards with “Random Act of Kindness” in memory of the child, scholarship funds, etc. I then thought of the motorcycle ride to honor Ryan on his birthday and give scholarships to construction students in his name. My choice to learn to ride was only to make him proud on his ride day. I never before had even thought about learning to ride. I did find it very enjoyable. I feel really close to Ryan when I’m riding and I feel he’s holding me up and keeping me safe too.

CC: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Janis: Bikers are the most thoughtful, generous group of people I’ve ever met. They will come from miles away in any kind of weather to support a cause. That is what God’s purpose is for us; to love one another. Bikers truly do!

CC: Well said, Janis. You are absolutely right.

Story and photos by Stripe