Yesterday was the 4th annual "Ride For Wish". A HUGE motorcycle ride to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation of Minnesota, specifically raising funds for two kids in particular who are waiting for their wish to happen.
I have to say, the Make A Wish Foundation is the neatest organization I've ever had anything to to do with. The things they manage to pull off are often of the miracle variety. But, sadly, every month we get the MAW newsletter, and there is a list of former wish kids who have passed away. Sometimes there are kids listed who passed away before their wish could come true. Reading these names, and thinking of their families and all they have gone and are going through, always puts tears in my eye.
So back to the ride. There were somewhere around 250-300 bikes on this ride! This is BY FAR the biggest ride I've ever been on, and THE MOST ORGANIZED! These guys really know how to do a big ride and keep that huge group safe. We occasionally ride with another group on their weekly ride, and it's always a little bit scary because there are some people who do some really stupid stuff. But most of the people who ride these huge charity rides do it all the time. They understand how it SHOULD work, and they make sure it DOES.
I can't begin to describe the energy that comes from a group ride like this. When the signal is given "Let's roll!" all the engines start. That's 200+ motorcycle engines, and the adrenaline rush that goes along with it. My sidecar still isn't done (soon...soon...soon) and it was killing me that Angela wasn't along for this ride. After all, SHE is the reason we're connected to this amazing organization! SHE would have loved the energy, and the thrill of the ride.
When there is a group of this size, we stretch out for a mile or so down the road. It's really an amazing sight, and is always met with hanging jaws from spectators. When we go through small towns, people come out their doors to see what the racket is about. They point, and wave, and try to count the bikes (which is impossible!) It really is a lot of fun! Another cool part of a ride like this is the business it brings to the small towns. Local bars are notified of our decent upon them well in advance, and are advised to have extra wait staff on hand. If you figure 250 bikes, about 1/2 of them having two people on the bike, that's a lot of business. For some small towns, that's a week's worth of business in just an hour's time. Because of the added stress to the business, bikers in a group like this often tip generously as well. Some businesses will then turn around and donate some of their profits for the day back to the ride's intended recipient.
Of course, I didn't bring my camera along on the ride. I can't believe I didn't! I realized it when I turned to look behind us, and saw the mile or so of bikes still coming, then turned and saw the 1/2 mile of bikes ahead of us. An amazing sight.
You won't find a more caring, generous group than a group of bikers. That tough exterior you see is just that, the exterior. What you can't see until you spend some time with them is the inside...the heart.
After the ride was a street dance with eight different bands, a silent auction and raffle. Of course food, etc. And the St. Paul Vulcans where there as well, marking people's cheek. We went home to pick up Angela so she could join in the street dance part of the day. She asked the vulcans, "You good guys or bad guys?" They answered her with mardi gras beads and a pin. LOL I did get a few pictures from this part of the day, but I can't find my camera to post them!
Anyway, a lot of money was raised to benefit two different kids who are waiting for their wish to come true. The Make A Wish Foundation of Minnesota is there to see that it does!