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21st Annual Bikers for Babies RIDE - Kansas City, Kansas

Written by  October 28, 2015

Again this year, all of Kansas City is proud to be the home of the nation’s number one Bikers for Babies® event with $650,000 raised for the March of Dimes mission and more than 5,000 participants including 4,300 who registered to ride. Beginning in 1995 with 130 riders and $3,000 raised, the total contribution of riders, sponsors, and donors has grown to more than $8 million for March of Dimes-Kansas Chapter. The RIDE began and ended in the infield at Kansas Speedway for the 15th consecutive year. It’s a perfect venue for an event of this magnitude!  

Pre-registration opportunities for the 2015 RIDE were provided at various sites around the Kansas City metro area over a few weeks prior to the September 20 RIDE. The locations were Kobi’s Bar & Grill, Indian Motorcycle Kansas City, Blue Springs Harley-Davidson, Gail’s Harley-Davidson, Rawhide Harley-Davidson, and Worth Harley-Davidson. On-line and on-site registration were also available. Registration at Kansas Speedway on the day of the RIDE was open between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m. for a $40 fee. Those who registered early received a $5 discount. Incentives were offered for various levels of fundraising. Breakfast was available from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. thanks to Chris Cakes and Price Chopper.

Opening ceremonies took place on a new, west-facing stage and began with the presentation of colors by the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department Honor Guard and Pipe & Drum Corps. Maggie Marx’s performance of the national anthem was followed by the opening prayer and blessing of the bikes by Chaplain Tony Davy, US Air Force, Whiteman Air Force Base. Emcees for the event were Gary Amble, Morning Meteorologist, and Chris Suchan, Chief Meteorologist, at KCTV 5. The presenting sponsor, NAPA Auto & Truck Parts, was represented by Chris Piston, District Manager. Kansas Speedway President Pat Warren and Special Events Manager Amber Shobe were on stage to be recognized for the speedway’s outstanding support of Bikers for Babies. Event co-chairmen Penny Sharp and Don Post were on stage to welcome participants as were honorary chairman Johnny Dare from 98.9 The Rock and this year’s March of Dimes ambassador family, the Throm family (Stefanie and Lyndon with sons Mason and Logan). The Throm’s story can be found on the Bikers for Babies website. Johnny has been the event’s Honorary Chairman since 1996 and was surprised and moved to be recognized as the very first recipient of the Don Post Volunteer Service Award. Penny was also recognized for 20 years of service as chairman/co-chairman.

Ed Hale and his Posse are the top fundraising group not only for the Kansas City event, but also nationally. During every year’s opening ceremony it is great to see the bundles of cash and many rolls of coins delivered to the stage by this dedicated volunteer group. This year, they raised $114,000 bringing their total since 2003 to over $1 million. Also, the top 16 fundraising teams raised $137,000, and 100 individual Grand Donors (those who raised at least $1,000) brought in a large sum.

NOTE: See the video below for coverage of the opening ceremony.

At the conclusion of the opening ceremony, riders headed out on the course about 100 miles in length. Every year Avila University cheerleaders shout their support for the riders as they head for the tunnel exit. As they emerged from the tunnel, the bikers rode through an avenue of American flags, took a right turn, and rode under a massive American flag suspended high between the extended ladders of two fire trucks from the Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department.

Visitors to the NASCAR garages had the opportunity to tour numerous vendor displays and shop for event T-shirts and other merchandise. This year, Road Trip provided musical entertainment, donating their time and talent. Gail’s Harley-Davidson sponsored a bike show that featured fine motorcycles in every class. Participants enjoyed a delicious meal, and there was plenty of food for all. Those preferring different cuisines were able to purchase from food trucks. Kawasaki motorcycles were available for demonstration rides on the track’s pit road.

A significant feature of the Bikers for Babies event every year is the Baby Boulevard, an infield fence displaying baby pictures of tiny “preemies” presented along with “look at me now” photos. Information on each child’s display includes his or her gestation period and birth weight. It is always moving to see how these incredibly tiny infants were able mature to become healthy, normal children in spite of such a challenging beginning. Many of the displays are dedicated to deceased infants, a grim reminder that much work is yet to be done in the field of infant care. My annual ritual includes a walk along the entire length of the display followed by a few tearful moments kneeling at one end of the fence and praying for the babies, their families, and the March of Dimes, an organization dedicated to providing assistance and supporting life-saving research.

The Grand Donors were eligible for a special reward, the opportunity to ride a few laps around Kansas Speedway’s 1.5-mile D-shaped oval track. Beginning at 2:00 p.m. riders took to the track. Even the youngest fundraisers were able to ride their mini-bikes from the pit road entrance to the start/finish line and back.

The closing ceremony included announcements, presentation of bike show awards, and the drawing for a beautiful new Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic® donated by Worth Harley-Davidson. Congratulations to winner J.D. Price! J.D. is a long-time rider and Grand Donor.   Thanks to all who brought in donations of $100 or more and were eligible for the drawing. Every participant in the event is appreciated and all donations, large and small, advance the cause.

NOTE: See the video below for coverage of the closing ceremony, Gail's Harley-Davidson Bike Show Winners, and Worth Harley-Davidson's Heritage Softail Classic giveaway.

Many thanks to these event sponsors:
NAPA Auto &Truck Parts – Presenting Sponsor
98.9 The Rock - The Johnny Dare Morning Show
KCTV5 and KSMO 62
The Kansas City Star
Price Chopper
Worth Harley-Davidson
Indian Motorcycle of KC
Gail’s Harley-Davidson
Kawasaki
Blue Springs Harley-Davidson
Rawhide Harley-Davidson

Thanks also to these Community Partners:
American Legion Leroy Hill Post 19
Avila Cheerlead Squad
Central States Beverage Company
emfluence
Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA)
Cycleconnections.com
Foresters
Brotherhood of Children
Visage, Inc
Richardson Communications
City-Rent-A-Truck
HAM Amateur Radio Operators
Kansas City, KS Police Department Honor Guard
and Pipe and Drum Corps
Kansas City, KS Fire Department
Salvation Army
Santa Fe Tow Service
The Roasterie
Tandy Leather
Starfish Project
Kansas City Accident Injury Attorney     
Austin Motorsports
St. Joe Harley Davidson
Akins pc repair, LLC    
Oz Powersports
Jerworlf/Better Stuff 4 Bikers
Tuff Shed

Special thanks to the Volunteer Management Team, hundreds of volunteers, and the Douglas, Leavenworth, and Wyandotte County Officials and Law Enforcement Officers.

Much more information about the RIDE can be found on the Bikers for Babies website and on their Facebook page. To learn more about the March of Dimes please visit www.marchofdimes.com or visit www.marchofdimes.com/kansas to learn more about the Greater Kansas Chapter.

Story by Stripe

Photos by Stripe, Mike Schweder, and Skye

Video & Video Editing by Skye

Media

Stripe

Photojournalist/Account Representative - Kansas City, MO

Dave Baxter, a.k.a. Stripe joined our staff in December, 2003, as a photojournalist. If that road name sounds familiar, you may have seen his photos on the pages of such publications as American Iron, V Twin, VQ, In the Wind, and Easyriders. Stripe attends as many rallies, bike shows, and charity runs as he can and is a major contributor of photos and articles to our magazine. His first assignment was our January, 2004, cover photo, where he snapped the awesome photo of a 1958 Harley-Davidson Duo Glide. A rider since the age of 14, he loves to help and encourage new riders. Stripe enjoys meeting new people and looks forward to catching many of our readers in the viewfinder of his digital camera. Contact Stripe at stripe@cycleconnections.com