Emotions are high at the Dreams for Kids Bike Run
Mark Schmidt ran a business with his brother, a Desert Storm veteran, when he decided to reenlist. Out of his brother's sacrifice came the Perham for Kids Bike Run.
"I felt that if he could do that, we could do something back here," Schmidt said. "I was having a beer, talking to my friends and thought we should really do something. Basically, it was a brainstorm."
From that brewed the idea of doing a motorcycle ride for the Make a Wish Foundation of Minnesota.
"I got a lot of information together and called 10 of my friends to discuss something. I didn't tell anyone what it was about. I explained to them what I wanted to do and asked if they could help and they all said yes. Most of them are still with the ride today."
This year marks the fifth annual bike run. With the growing tradition come many emotions and fond memories, along with some sadness.
"Every year is emotional," he said. "But we get to see our Wish children come back to our event. It makes it great to see them year after year. I also appreciate the friendships that have grown after doing what we've done."
According to Schmidt, the first run was really emotional.
"We started out with an idea; next thing you know we're raffling off a motorcycle, $18,000 in debt. Then we're donating $15,000 and granting three wishes."
The run has created a host of stories and friendships. The first year's winner of the motorcycle, Steve Loy, was from Indiana. He bought five tickets at the car show in Perham.
"I called him to let him know that he'd won and he was excited."
Loy came back up to Perham to pick up his motorcycle but brought a surprise of his own. The retail value of his motorcycle was $18,000. Instead of hopping on the bike and ripping out of town, Loy decided to donate to Schmidt's cause, $1,000 per year for 18 years to match the retail value of his bike.
Emotions run high on all fronts in this event. They aren't always so light-hearted, happy or philanthropic.
"On the down side, we've lost two of our Wish children," Schmidt said. "But just to see the kids and the excitement on their faces, having them on stage draw the names for our winners, I've gotten to see some of my friends, tough guys, kind of melt."
The bike run has had a dramatic effect on the eight to 10 members who organize the festivities, along with the community, who Schmidt thanks for tremendous support and encouragement.
"I think it's changed everybody. Every year when I go on stage I thank everyone for coming, supporters and sponsors, but I make sure to say one thing. I want everybody to go home and think that you did something good today. You helped changed a life. They should feel good about themselves."
The fifth annual Dreams for Kids Bike Run will be held Saturday, July 24.
Breakfast will be available the day of the ride from 8 to 11 a.m. at the Pioneer Village.
Registration is from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and the ride leaves at noon sharp.
Tickets available for $20 include the ride, supper, evening entertainment and camping.
Tickets available for $10 include the evening entertainment and camping only.
Sapphire will take the stage at 6:30 p.m., followed by 32 Below at 9:30 p.m.
A raffle will be held. Tickets are $20. Top prize is a 2010 Dyna Super Glide or $10,000 cash option. The winner need not be present to win. Cash prizes will also be awarded.
New to this year's activities is an Early Bird meet and greet Friday, July 23, starting at 7 p.m. A potluck will be held, a DJ will spin music and there will be a bonfire.