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19th Annual Kansas City Bikers for Babies® RIDE – Kansas City, Kansas

Written by  November 1, 2013

The nation’s number one Bikers for Babies® fundraiser takes place in Kansas City. Beginning in 1995 with $3,000 raised by 130 riders the event has seen dramatic growth. Last year participants numbering nearly 5,000 came from 20 states and raised more than $675,000 for March of Dimes.


Pre-registration opportunities for the 2013 event were provided at various sites around the Kansas City metro area over a few weeks preceding the September 22 RIDE. The locations were Kobi’s Bar & Grill, Gail’s Harley-Davidson , Blue Springs Harley-Davidson , Shawnee Cycle Plaza , Rawhide Harley-Davidson , and Worth Harley-Davidson . On line registration was also available. Riders could also register between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m. at Kansas Speedway on the day of the RIDE. Incentives were offered for various levels of fundraising. For those who arrived with an appetite, Chris Cake’s Pancake Breakfast was available for $5 (free for $100 heroes).





New for this year was Moto Cup Grand Prix motorcycle racing on the 6-turn, 2.37-mile infield road race course. Qualifying began at 8:00 a.m. with races kicking off at 9:15 and featuring Superbike and Lightweight Grand Prix champions Ron Mears and Hector St. John and many other professional racers.





Opening ceremonies began at 10:30 a.m. with the Presentation of the Colors by the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department Honor Guard and Pipe & Drum Corps, the singing of the National Anthem by Maggie Marx, and a prayer and blessing of the bikes by Reverend Aimee Niles. Karli Ritter of the Fox 4 weather team served as emcee for the seventh consecutive year. Event co-chairmen Penny Sharp and Don Post were on stage to welcome participants as were long-time honorary chairman Johnny Dare from 98.9 The Rock and this year’s March of Dimes ambassador family, the Millers. Melanie, the third child of Becky and Lance Miller, was born 9 weeks early and weighed only 4 pounds. There were many health problems to overcome, but Melanie is now a happy and healthy 7-year-old. More information about the Millers and the care Melanie received as a result of the March of Dimes is available on the Kansas City Bikers for Babies website.





Ed Hale and his Posse are always top fundraisers not only for the Kansas City event, but also nationally. During every year’s opening ceremony it is a thrill to see the bundles of cash and many rolls of coins delivered to the stage by this dedicated group. For 2013, the amount raised by Ed and his Posse was an astounding $143,000.





Since this is not an escorted ride, motorcyclists set out on the 100-mile route whenever they are ready, but the vast majority depart soon after the conclusion of the opening ceremony. Again this year Avila University cheerleaders were on hand to cheer the riders as they began the RIDE. As they came through the tunnel exiting the Kansas Speedway, participants rode through an avenue of flags and under a huge American flag suspended between the extended ladders of two fire trucks from the Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department.





Lunch donated by Price Chopper was served between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Gail’s Harley-Davidson sponsored a bike show with judging beginning at 1:00 p.m. A motorcycle expo featuring many vendors occupied two of the NASCAR garages. On the Fly; Kyle Elliott and Voodoo Soul were the bands providing musical entertainment during the event.





Every year, an infield fence is transformed into the Baby Boulevard 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 amazingly tiny infants were able mature to become healthy, normal children in spite of seemingly insurmountable problems associated with premature birth. Many of the displays are dedicated to infants who did not survive, a sad reminder that much remains to be accomplished in the field of infant care. The Baby Boulevard is a place of mixed emotions—a place to celebrate and a place to mourn, a place to shed tears of joy and of sorrow, a place to remind us why we have come and that there is still much work to be done.





The Grand Donors (fundraisers of $1,000 or more) have the unique opportunity to ride a few laps around Kansas Speedway’s 1.5-mile D-shaped oval track. After the first group of riders completed their laps, a group of youngsters on miniature motorcycles got their turn, riding from turn 4 to turn 1 and returning on pit road.





For 13 consecutive years, Worth Harley-Davidson has donated a new Harley to be given away at the Bikers for Babies RIDE. Participants receive an entry for each $100 in donations they collect. The drawing for the bike is the climax of the closing ceremony every year. Andrea Grippano was the lucky winner of a beautiful black 2014 Road King®.





Award winners in the ride-in bike show sponsored by Gail’s Harley-Davidson included the following:







Domestic Stock - 1st - Larry Bain - 2012 ST CVO



2nd - Roger Gilbert - 2012 FLD



Non-Domestic Stock-information not available



Domestic Mild -1st - Jack Gilbert - 2009 Heritage



2nd - AMOCO – Blackling



Domestic Custom - 1st - Scott Wilson - 2011 Heritage



2nd - Dana Grippando - 2012 Softail



Non-Domestic Custom - 1st - Cliff Berry - 2005 1800 VTX-F



2nd - Henry Bertoncino - 2000CBR F4



Dresser - 1st - Trevor Miller - 9/11 Road King



2nd - Ratchet - 2007 Streetglide



Trike - 1st - Pink Hall



2nd – Richard Kamm “Hoss”



Chopper - 1st - Scott Wilson - 2005 Wild West



2nd – Mike Payne - 2002 Chopper





Antique - 1st - Mark Docman - 1975 FLH



2nd - Joseph Nave - 1978 KZ1000 Police



Ladies - 1st - Michelle Blanz - Can Am Spyder



2nd – Judy Lesiak – HD Switchback



Best of Show - Trevor Miller - 9/11 Road King



Minis - All received plaques - JJ Rodgers, Dayton Dadley, Derrick Eiserer, Logan Bowie, Ashlie Draper







The following expression of appreciation is from the Bikers for Babies Facebook page: “Thank you again to the nearly 5,000 riders, sponsors, volunteers and family teams who raised $620,000 this year! A special acknowledgement goes out to the community and civic groups who helped out:



- Area Amateur Radio Operators (HAMs)



- American Legion Riders - Post 19



- Avila University Cheerleaders



- BACA / Bikers Against Child Abuse



- Fire/Police/Sheriffs/all EMS/County & City Officials and hundreds of spectators in Kansas City, Bonner Springs, DeSoto, Eudora, Oscaloosa, McClouth, and Tonganoxie



- Foresters International Volunteers



- Kansas City, KS Fire Department, American Flag Presentation



- Kansas City, KS Police Dept Honor Guard and Pipe & Drum Corps



- Kansas City Roller Warriors



- Kansas Dept of Transportation



- Oskaloosa School Administrators, Parents & Students



- SAACS Volunteers



- Salvation Army”





Sponsors were 98.9 The Rock, HCA Midwest, Worth Harley-Davidson , Price Chopper, Gail’s Harley-Davidson , Rawhide Harley-Davidson , Visage, Blue Springs Harley-Davidson , emfluence, and City Rent-A-Truck



Much more information about the RIDE can be found on the Bikers for Babies website and on their Facebook page.



Please note that the NASCAR Foundation has announced that Don Post, one of the Bikers for Babies co-chairmen and Volunteer Coordinator, is one of four honorees for the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. People across the U.S. can vote on line for the person they think is most deserving -- once per day/per e-mail address through December 5. The finalists are invited to Las Vegas where the winner will be announced at the NASCAR Celebration of Champions. The winner earns a gift to their charity of choice - $100,000 for top vote getter, $25,000 for the other three. We at Cycle Connections encourage our readers to visit www.nascar.com/award , view the contestants’ videos, and vote for Don.



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. Readers, please circle September 21 on your 2014 calendars. The 20th Annual Bikers for Babies RIDE in Kansas City is sure to be an event to remember.


Photos by Stripe and Mike Schweder

Mike Schweder

Editor-in-Chief - Kansas City, MO

Mike is the original founder of Cycle Connections Online Motorcycle Magazine and an avid motorcycle enthusiast. He has been riding for over 40 years, belongs to several local and national motorcycle organizations and travels to numerous rallies and events throughout the US each year. Mike has been a writer and editor for many years and has a passion for sharing his motorcycling experiences and stories with you. Contact Mike at mikes@cycleconnections.com