$337K Raised at Atlanta Ride for Kids

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Every Ride for Kids is a special event and the Atlanta, Georgia ride on Sunday,June 3 was no exception as 2200 motorcyclists raised an all-time record of$337,277 in contributions.

Every year in Atlanta, the first Sunday has become synonymous with motorcycles,kids with cancer, and a day filled with fun and hope. As the home of thefirst-ever Ride for Kids, Atlanta's riders made the eighteenth annual gatheringa truly historic occasion...

As the morning sun chased away the balmy night, a magnificent blue sky appearedover Atlanta. Every brand of rider from across the southeast converged onNorthpoint Shopping Center in Alpharetta until over 2,200 riders were neatlyparked in the starting area. Once everyone had turned in their donations andfinished a light breakfast, the Fulton County Sheriff's Reserve, assisted bytheGeorgia State Patrol and other police agencies, led a twenty-mile longprocession of motorcycles to the mountain hamlet of Helen, Georgia.

The small Bavarian-style community welcomed the riders with throngs ofwell-wishers lining the main street, cheering the riders on to theirdestination- a huge circus tent erected alongside the headwaters of the mightyChattahoochee river for the event's Celebration of Life.

The crowd celebrated new records set by scores of resourceful motorcyclists whohad outperformed all previous fund raising efforts. The Top Club Chapter wasGWRRA GA-T, with $40,639 in donations. Close behind was GWRRA GA-S with$35,815,GWRRA GA-W at $35,083, GWRRA GA-P with $32,290 and the BMW Motorcycle Owners ofGeorgia with $8,910. This marked the first time in the history of the Ride forKids that the Top Five Chapters at one event raised over $150,000.

The Top Individual Fund Raisers were the hard working Task Force volunteersTommy and Connie Smith, who raised $16,445. An overwhelmed Gary and BarbaraThayer received the Top Shop Award with an amazing $100,522 turned in by theircustomers.

Joe Durning, of Manchester, Georgia even offered to shave his head if hisfriends would help him raise $2,000 in donations - which they promptly did. Joedutifully became a very bald motorcyclist. To his shock, he was also the luckywinner of the Honda motorcycle. Next year there will undoubtedly be a largeturnout of hairless men for this event.

The phenomenal response of motorcyclists at the 2001 Atlanta Ride for Kids wasatestimony to Task Force leaders Jim and Nona Unversaw. Together they led adedicated group of volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the year toinvite riders from the seventy chapters and clubs who participated in thisyear's event. When eighteen young brain tumor patients - each of whom had thepleasure of riding as passengers with their host motorcyclists - held up anoversized donation check showing $337,277 in contributions, the crowd nearlyknocked the immense tent down in their exuberant celebration.

This was a day of grateful tears and excited cheers. It brought togetherchildren and families who are bravely battling brain tumors with a very proudand caring group of motorcyclists. Because of this alliance, the PediatricBrainTumor Foundation's Research and Family Support Program will be able to makesignificant strides forward in the search for the cause and cure of childhoodbrain tumors.

The next Ride for Kids event is on June 23 at the Honda Hoot in Knoxville,Tennessee.

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