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15th Annual Run For The Homeless

Written by  May 31, 2004

For 15 years, motorcycle riders throughout the Kansas City area have been coming together the first Sunday in May to ride with one mission in mind: raising money for the City Union Mission in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. This year, bikers raised $26,374 in the Bikers With A Mission Run for the Homeless. Over the last 14 years, the event has raised more than $400,000.

Sponsored and organized by the Cycle Disciples Kansas City Chapter, 593 bikers registered at the Cycle Disciples Clubhouse at the former Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base near Belton, Missouri. The 100 mile route took us east from there to Holden on Highway 58 and then north on Highway 131 to the Odessa check point at Tom's House of Speed. From there, the route took us to Wellington and then west on Highway 24 to Kansas City via Highways 291, 210 and 71. At the City Union Mission we were fed, entertained by Jody Jarrett & Streams of Mercy and prizes were given away.

Sandy Baldwin, Director of Community Relations for City Union Mission, was pleased with the turnout. “We’ve had from 240 bikers to 1,200,” she said. “This year, it was threatening to rain. Last year on the day of the ride is when we had the tornadoes, and the sirens were going off as we were pulling chairs and taking down tents. We had more riders this year. It was a wonderful turnout and we’re blessed by all the bikers that come.”

She said the money raised from the ride is used for the Mission’s unbudgeted expenses. “Those are items that are not in our annual budget,” she said. “That would be for things such as medical supplies; you never have any idea what children and adults coming in are going to need in the way of medical needs. The fund is also used for bus tokens to get people to and from job interviews. They are used to buy eyeglasses too. We had a little girl get a set of eyeglasses and she wrote a thank-you note to the bikers saying that she now can see the blackboard.”

She said the money is sometimes used to help with rental assistance or to help people pay utility bills. It has even been used to purchase new playground equipment at the Mission and computers for the facility’s learning lab center.

The Run for the Homeless began when Rev. Guy Girratono, founder of Disciples of Jesus Ministry, Inc., and his wife, Rhonda, wanted to share their experience of the City Union Mission with other members of the motorcycle community. The Mission had taken in their son and helped him during some difficult times, and creating the benefit ride was a way for the Girratonos to give back to the Mission.

The Mission is a Christian-based organization. Some guests of the Mission also volunteer during the ride by helping with parking and giving testimonials. “They want to share their thanks with the bikers,” said Baldwin.

Some of the items given away were two round-trip tickets on Southwest Airlines and a custom-made knife by W.M. Knives, which was won by Jerry and Pat North who raised the most pledges with cash in hand totaling $1,130. It was a record for the ride. There was also a bike show.

“We are truly blessed by these bikers for what they do for us,” said Baldwin.

Riders Darren Marshall and his wife Katherine enjoyed the ride. “This is the second year we’ve done it,” said Darren. “It’s a good ride and it’s for a good cause. I’m just glad it didn’t rain.”

There were several generous sponsors to help cover the cost of the ride so that all registration money and pledges can be used by the City Union Mission.

Mark your calendar for next year’s ride which will be Sunday, May 1, 2005.

Story by Chuck Kurtz

Photos by Stripe and Chuck Kurtz