Ride for Kids Sets One Day Record of $350K

Elliot Strong
by Elliot Strong
Asheville, NC- A blazing Chicago summer sun was no match for the radiant warmth that poured forth from more than 2300 participants at the 2002 Northbrook, IL Ride for Kids® on Sunday, July 21. When the tally was completed, a whopping $281,205 had been raised to fund the ongoing search for the cause and cure of the deadliest children?s disease in America, pediatric brain tumors.

Meanwhile, 770 miles to the east, 450 motorcyclists and volunteers in Utica, NY raised a record $69,096 at the Utica Ride for Kids® to support the research and family support programs of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation of the U.S. (PBTFUS)...

The combined funds from the Utica and Northbrook Ride for Kids® events - $350,301 - represent a new one-day record for the Ride for Kids® program.

The Northbrook Ride for Kids® marked the 14th year of the event in the Chicagoland area. The morning dawned clear and warm, and by the afternoon the mercury had climbed to a scorching 98 degrees. Thanks to an extensive pre-event media campaign by Allstate Insurance Co., which hosted the ride at their sprawling national office complex in Northbrook, a large number of first-time participants - estimated at 20 percent - were on hand to enjoy the camaraderie and spirit of the day.

The ride was escorted by 15 local police agencies through numerous villages and towns on the north side of Chicago, to the great pleasure of thousands of onlookers who came out of their homes and businesses along the route to cheer the riders. Once the motorcyclists arrived back at the Allstate campus, they gathered under a big-top tent for the Celebration of Life ceremony.

Dr. Jim Ruffer, a pediatric radiation neuro oncologist, told the group that research has successfully developed improved methods of radiation treatment for children?s brain tumors. He also described the excitement researchers share as they investigate new ways to attack tumor cells in the laboratory, with the intention of one day treating actual childhood brain tumors.

On a day that drew local celebrities like US99?s Big John Howell and Chicago Bears wide receiver Marcus Robinson, the real stars of the day were the seven brain tumor patients who came on stage to thank the motorcyclists for their hard work. 12-year old Melanie Hatch brought the crowd to its feet, tears streaming down their faces, as she led them in spirited rendition of Elvis Presley?s ?If I Can Dream."

Dozens of riders collected more than the minimum $35 to ride, yet none could best the efforts of Top Fundraiser Carol Henige, who brought $28, 234. The Top Club/Chapter was GWRRA IL-G2, which raised a remarkable $66,460. Top Dealer Ted Nielsen, whose customers raised $71,349, asked the riders to remember the late broadcaster Bob Collins for his generous support of the Ride for Kids® in the early years of the event. Task Force member Rich Zalke was the enthusiastic winner of the Honda motorcycle.

A well-deserved round of applause was offered as thanks to the Northbrook Ride for Kids® Task Force Leaders Vito Racanelli and Bob Wagner, who led an extremely well-organized and motivated group of more than 200 volunteers. A special thanks was also was given to Navy Lieutenant Sara Wilson and 50 Navy volunteers from the Great Lakes Naval Station.

Riders in the Utica, NY Ride for Kids® event enjoyed a beautiful 80-degree summer day. The ride traveled along a gorgeous route through upstate New York en route to the quaint Adirondack village of Old Forge. At the Celebration of Life ceremony, 17-year old brain tumor survivor Gary Hatfield, who rode his motorcycle in the event, told the assembled motorcyclists, ?Thanks go to all of you for your support of the Foundation and the research they fund. Your efforts today are working for young kids. And we are the future of tomorrow!?

Many of the riders worked throughout the year to raise funds for much-needed research. The Top Fundraiser was Sharon Love, who raised $6,357. Top Club/Chapter honors went to GWRRA NY-T, whose members collected $13,523. The Top Shop was D & M Accessories, whose customers raised $15,604. The lucky winner of the Honda motorcycle was Rich Gill of Dunkirk, NY.

Task Force Leaders Paul and Bobbie Duffy and Ken and Kathy Sweatman, along with dozens of volunteers, were congratulated for their flawless execution of the event.

Ride for Kids® events are held across the USA to support the programs of the PBTFUS. Next weekend two Ride for Kids® events will occur - on Saturday, July 27 in Marysville, OH and on Sunday, July 28 in St. Paul, MN. For more information, call (800) 253-6530 or visit www.ride4kids.org.

About the PBTFUS

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation of the U.S. funds medical research grants and clinical fellowships to help find the cause and cure of childhood brain tumors. The Foundation also offers family support programs for families with a child who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Programs include free literature about brain tumors, the Helping Hand national newsletter, the Informed Parent Internet Conference series and scholarships for post-secondary education. For more information about the PBTFUS, call (800) 253-6530 or visit: www.pbtfus.org.

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