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22nd Annual March of Dimes Bikers for Babies - Kansas City, Kansas

Written by  October 29, 2016

Again this year, Kansas City is proud to be the home of the nation’s top Bikers for Babies® event with over $600,000 raised for March of Dimes and more than 4,000 attendees including 3,300 who registered to ride. Beginning in 1995 with 130 riders and $3,000 raised, the RIDE has become the top one-day charity ride in the nation year after year. The September 18 RIDE began and ended in the infield at Kansas Speedway for the 16th consecutive year. It’s a perfect venue for a huge event like this one!  

Pre-registration events were held at Kobi’s Bar & Grill, Indian Motorcycle Kansas City, Blue Springs Harley-Davidson, Gail’s Harley-Davidson, Rawhide Harley-Davidson, and Worth Harley-Davidson. Participants could also register on line or at Kansas Speedway on the day of the event. Incentives were offered for various levels of fundraising.

On September 18, Chris Cakes pancake breakfast was served beginning at 8 a.m. At 10:30 opening ceremonies began with the presentation of colors by the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department Honor Guard. Maggie Marx’s singing of the national anthem was followed by the opening prayer and blessing of the bikes by Mike May, chaplain of the Kansas City, Kansas, P.D. Emcees for the event were Chief Meteorologist Chris Suchan and Morning Meteorologist Gary Amble, both from KCTV 5. Event co-chairmen Penny Sharp and Don Post were on stage to welcome participants as was 21-year honorary chairman Johnny Dare, morning show host from 98.9 F.M. The Rock.

This year’s March of Dimes ambassador family, the Higgins family, were there to add their thanks. Their connection to March of Dimes resulted from not one, but two premature births. Ashley and Jeremy’s son, Carter, was born weighing just over a pound and spent 90 days in the neonatal intensive care unit. He was in respiratory distress that was resolved with Surfactant, a drug therapy developed by March of Dimes. Their daughter, Reese, weighed just 3 pounds at birth and spent 31 days in the N.I.C.U. Jeremy and Ashley credit March of Dimes research for helping to save their babies’ lives. Now Carter and Reese, ages 4 and 1, respectively, are happy, active children.

Don post has been a March of Dimes volunteer for more than 30 years, helping to coordinate hundreds of volunteers. Recognizing Don’s dedication and love for the children who benefit from March of Dimes research and services, the organization created the Don Post Volunteer Service Award to be presented to a deserving volunteer each year in recognition of their dedication to the mission to help all babies have a healthy start in life. The first recipient was Johnny Dare. The second honoree recognized during the opening ceremony was, to her surprise, Penny Sharp, Bikers for Babies co-chairman and 21-year volunteer.

For the past 13 years, Ed Hale and the members of Ed’s Pose have worked year-round to collect March of Dimes donations on street corners throughout the city. This year, they brought in an amazing $112,000 bringing their 13-year total to $1.12 million.

At the conclusion of the opening ceremony, riders headed out on the course about 80 miles in length. Each 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 that had been placed by members of the American Legion LeRoy Hill Post 19, took a right turn, and rode under a huge American flag suspended high between the extended ladders of two fire trucks from the Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department. What a beautiful sight!

During the day, participants enjoyed touring the vendor area occupying the NASCAR garages. A booth provided information about March of Dimes. Among the many vendor booths was ours, the Cycle Connections booth staffed by Editor Mike, Nichole, and Skye. There was a Kids’ Zone with face painting and fun activities. Riders could pose for Victory Lane commemorative photos. Rock band Dead Man’s Hand provided musical entertainment. A delicious lunch was provided by Price Chopper beginning at 11:00, and there was a people’s choice bike show sponsored by Gail’s Harley-Davidson with judging beginning at 1:00 p.m.

An important feature of the Bikers for Babies event every year is the Baby Boulevard, this year expanded to two infield fences with hundreds of posters displaying photos of tiny “preemies” presented along with “look at me now” pictures. Information on each child’s display includes his or her gestation period and birth weight. It is always heartwarming to see how these incredibly tiny infants were able mature to become healthy, normal children in spite of such a challenging start. Many of the displays are dedicated to deceased infants, a sad reminder that much work is yet to be done in the field of infant care. Every year I walk along the entire length of the Boulevard and spend 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, those who brought in at least $1,000, were eligible for a very special reward, the opportunity to ride a few laps around Kansas Speedway’s 1.5-mile 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 2:30 p.m. closing ceremony featured bike show awards and the drawing for a new Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic donated by Worth Harley-Davidson. For every $100 donated, riders received an opportunity ticket for a chance to win the motorcycle. This year’s lucky winner was Jeremy Binder. Congratulations, Jeremy.

Families, friends, and fellow riders created Bikers for Babies teams to enhance the awareness and funding for the March of Dimes mission. This year, more than 476 individuals joined forces and formed an amazing 59 teams bringing in more than $114,000 in donations. The teams that each raised $2,500 or more this year include Kansas City Spyder Ryders (top team with $27,000 raised), Cardinal Health Team, All Systems, Maggie’s Royal Family, Second Chance, Team Kaydee June, Brothers of Sacrifice LE, Team Double Trouble, Team LOVE, ABATE of Kansas District 11, Siemens Lenexa, Gia and the Gang, and Team Kaleb.

Special thanks go to the event planning committee members. They are Lyle Brown, Joni Clark-Moreland, Jennifer Fisher, Chris Hillman, Bill Kennedy, Debbie Lackey, Matt May, Tom Moreland, Don Post, Michael Post, Joy Roach, Freda Schroeder, Phil Schroeder, Chris Searles, Penny Sharp, Bob Wasser, Cassie Wasser, Chris Whigham, Shelly Whigham, and Martha Young. Sponsors are critically important to the success of any fund-raising event. This year’s sponsors included 98.9 The Rock, The Johnny Dare Morning Show, Worth Harley-Davidson, KCTV5/KSMO, the Kansas City Star, Price Chopper, Indian Motorcycle of Kansas City, Kawasaki, Edelman & Thompson, Gail’s Harley-Davidson, Blue Springs Harley-Davidson, Rawhide Harley-Davidson, and Kansas Speedway. Community Partners were American Legion LeRoy Hill Post 19 of Gardner, Kansas; Avila Cheering Squad; Brotherhood of Children; Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) ; Christian Motorcyclists Association; City Rent-a-Truck; Cycleconnections.com; Emfluence; Forester’s; HAM Radio Volunteers; Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department; Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department Honor Guard; Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department; The Roasterie; Sam’s Club; Santa Fe Tow; Salvation Army; and Visage.

March of Dimes was founded in 1938 and succeeded in its mission to find a vaccine to defeat polio. The mission evolved with March of Dimes funding some of the greatest advances and scientists in the 20th century: receiving 13 Nobel Prizes for improving the health of millions of children; identifying the double-helix structure of DNA; creating  Neonatal Intensive Care Units; discovering Surfactant Therapy to help preemies’ lungs develop; educating people on the benefits of Folic Acid to reduce birth defects; and educating doctors and women about avoiding elective deliveries before 39 weeks. 

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