Ronald McDonald Ride raises more than $131,600
Motorcycles rumbled through New York Mills on June 11 as the 10th annual Ronald McDonald Ride brought in 1,320 motorcyclists to benefit the Ronald McDonald House charity.
More than $131,600 was raised, with donations still coming in, according to committee member Greg Karvonen. It takes about a full 30 days for all donations to be tallied, he said.
No matter where they were from, bikers agreed that the RMH Ride gets such a large turnout every year because it goes for a good cause.
Second-year rider Howie Ogaard from Alexandria, Minn., succinctly summed up his motivation for participating in the ride: "It's for a fantastic cause," he said.
"People don't realize that bikers are the biggest majority that supports charities," added Lauri Greiner of Miltona, Minn.
The camaraderie that the bikers share, Ogaard said, is something that helps to make the Ronald McDonald Ride special.
A few rows over, Rod Sibbert of Pillager, Minn., and Mike Ranum of Henning, who had just met, were comparing their bikes.
Sibbert said that friends, camaraderie, seeing different bikes and good weather were good reasons enough to come out for the ride, but that it was also so much more than that.
"It goes for a good cause," he said. "It's worth doing just for that."
On the steps of the VFW, Lyle Brasel and Jerry Anderson took in the flurry of activity in the parking lot as they waited to present the color guard that would mark the start of the ride.
Anderson said he and the rest of the VFW look forward to the day every year.
"For the people that turn out, it's for the ride, and for the purpose of the ride," Brasel said.
The turnout every year, Anderson said, is "just unbelievable."
According to Karvonen, there were riders from Illinois, Montana, and even from far away as Florida and Louisiana.
The oldest bike in the ride was a 1929 Harley Davidson, Karvonen said. The oldest biker was 72 years old, and the youngest was six.
The weekend festivities included many other events, such as R&R Wrestling on June 9, a live concert on June 10, and a pancake breakfast and kids bike's rodeo the morning before the ride.
After the bikers returned from the ride, the party continued at the VFW. Bikers enjoyed a hog roast, live and silent auctions, a burnout contest, and an outdoor concert.
Several people who have used the Ronald McDonald House charity also got up on stage and shared their experiences, including the mother of NY Mills student Kacie Pikula. Pikula recently underwent treatment for a brain tumor.
"It was neat for people to see who they're helping and how they're helping," Karvonen said. "They were pretty emotional stories."
Now, with another ride finished, the committee of 30 people will take a month to relax, Karvonen said. Then they will meet to discuss how this year's ride went, and the planning process will start all over again.