This July, engines will roar as bikers roll through the region, racing for charities focused on a cure.
“The Kids and Cancer Motorcycle Benefit Run is a way to promote the area - Northwest Pennsylvania and New York State,” said Dave Geitner, Kids and Cancer Run event coordinator. “But it’s also for the enjoyment of being able to help a family out, to generate funds for families with kids that have cancer and for medical facilities.”
Geitner started the run in the early 90s and later talked with Zippo about including the event in the company’s summer festival. “It’s grown ever since,” he said, noting that over 9,000 people have participated in the Run over its 15-year history with an average of 600 bikers each year.
“It’s still on the rise,” Geitner added. “We’re taking pre-registrations now, and already have people from Florida, Cleveland and Buffalo. One year we had a guy from Germany, and that was pretty cool.”
To date, the Kids and Cancer Motorcycle Benefit Run committee has donated over $220,000 to individuals, medical facilities, cancer related organizations and other service clubs that benefit kids and their families.
“Everything goes toward medical assistance,” Geitner said. “You never realize how much of an effort it can be when a 15-month-old needs to go to another state for treatment and you don’t know how to pay for gas or a hotel stay during treatment. It’s a lot of hard work, and to be able to help families out, it really touches your heart.”
A highlight of the event is the raffling of the “Harley of Hope”, a custom-painted 2013 Harley-Davidson Dyna Switchback, purchased from Harley-Davidson of Jamestown, NY.
“This is the eighth bike we’ve purchased and given away,” Geitner said, noting the bike retails for $20,000 without the custom paint job. “Raffle tickets are available at the dealership or through a Chautauqua-Kinzua Harley Owner Group (H.O.G.) member. They’re $20 a piece or six for $100, and they’re also available the day of the event.”
Glen Landers, director of the Chautauqua-Kinzua H.O.G., focuses his efforts on selling raffle tickets for the event and said the public is generally willing to help out with the cause. “For the most part, they go pretty well,” he said. “I explain what the organization is and what the money goes for, that it’s all for helping families in need.”
Landers is a regular participant in the event, and said he always looks forward to the ride. “We really enjoy the rides,” he said. “They generally go through New York and Pennsylvania’s back roads, and there’s always a nice stop at the end.”
Participants in the Kids and Cancer Motorcycle Benefit Run will depart from the Zippo Parking Lot on Saturday, July 20 and cruise approximately 95 miles before returning to Mechanic Street in Bradford for food, beverages and entertainment.
“They shut down the street for the day,” Geitner said. “Players Downtown, Corner Bar, and Lighter Side - all area bars - are all part of the festivities. There will be food, drinks, and we’ll give out awards and gag gifts too.”
The Run will be held rain or shine, and everyone is welcome to participate, even if it means riding in a car.
“It’s not what you ride, it’s that you ride,” Geitner said, recalling one year when a group rented a bus due to bad weather. “The riders came, registered their bikes and left. Later, they came back as a group and had rented a bus. They had a blast.”
Anyone interested in participating in the Kids and Cancer Motorcycle Benefit Run can register online at www.kidsandcancerbenefitrun.com
or at the event. The registration fee is $20, which includes a $5 food voucher for the end of the run.
Geitner and Landers want everyone who participates to remember that their contributions are going toward a good cause, whether it’s helping a family or a medical facility. “The greatest satisfaction we get is knowing we help people in need, and that we’re able to personally donate to this cause,” Landers said.
Geitner added, “It would be great to give families a voucher for a cure, and maybe someday we will. We very much appreciate everyone that contributes toward the Run. They really make it all happen. We’re just the vehicles that support the cause.”