Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

10th Annual Bikers for Babies® Ride

Written by  September 30, 2004

Sunday, September 12 was a phenomenal day from start to finish for the 10th Annual Bikers for Babies Ride at the Kansas Speedway. I once heard someone say, “What can a bunch of bikers do for babies?” The answer is ride like someone’s life depends on it! And to Kansas City bikers, it does! For the third year, the Kansas City Bikers for Babies® Ride ranks #1 among all 80 March of Dimes benefit rides in the country. This year, 6,569 riders raised over $430,000! Puts a lump in my throat just thinking about so many who care so much.

Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education and advocacy to save babies. They have focused their efforts toward the day when babies will no longer be born with birth defects or born premature, so parents will no longer experience the tragedy of losing a child. Penny Sharp, Bikers for Babies Ride Co-Chair says, “By riding in this event, you support March of Dimes efforts to raise awareness of the problem and support research to save babies right here in Kansas City and across the nation.”

After the opening ceremonies with Penny, Ambassador Ella Ruth AuFranc and other Ambassador families, Ed Hale, who was the top donor, dumped out two duffle bags of money totaling $25,365 which was raised at various events held at Bike-Nites Restaurant & Bar in Kansas City, Missouri. What a way to start the ride! Honorary Chair Johnny Dare from 98.9 The Rock and KCTV 5’s Gary Amble lead us on the route past enthusiastic crowds cheering and holding up signs as we waved and rode on. You simply had to be there to experience the feeling that comes over you. The 112 mile all Kansas route was a reverse of last year’s route and I overheard many riders commenting that there seemed to be less backups even though there were more riders. Tracey and Troy of Prairie Village, Kansas enjoyed their first year on the ride and said they could literally feel the excitement in the air.

Lines for lunch began around 1 p.m. and got longer as more riders returned. But with four lines moving through the tents, it only took about 25 minutes to get your food. Hamburgers were supplied and cooked with flair by the Outback Steakhouse and served with their seasoned fries. The perfect ending to lunch would have been ice cream. Oh well, maybe next year. This was the first year for James and 11 members of the Boy Scouts of America #168 out of Lathrop, Missouri to volunteer at the event. They kept cups of water flowing for the thirsty bikers and can’t wait until next year to do it all over again.

After lunch, riders who raised over $1,000 were named Grand Donors and awarded three victory laps around the track. Other activities included a People’s Choice Bike Show, Dealer Expos, a Vintage Bike Display and performances by Ararat Motor Corps, Midwest Stunters and KC’s Most Wanted.

The lucky winner of the 2004 Harley-Davidson V-Rod was Gary Gilman of Olathe, Kansas, who was later contacted and elated to receive the news. I'm sure we'll be seeing him riding around town showing it off.

Hats off to Leslie Forrester, who coordinated over 250 volunteers which staffed the event. Steve Yates, who co-chairs the Ride with Penny Sharp said, “I have been involved with the March of Dimes ride from the very first one back in 1995. I am very proud of the Kansas City area bikers for their support this year, and for their support over the past years as well. The March of Dimes does a great job improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality. Thank you March of Dimes and thank you Kansas City bikers for letting me be a part of a great event.”

Story by Margaret Liggett and Stripe

Photos by Stripe, Mike Schweder, Bart and Tracey Fisher