Monday, May 17, 2010
Call them Health's Angels.
Shriner Bill Voorhees signals the hundreds of riders... (Scott Sommerdorf / Salt Lake Tribune)
Motorcycle riders »They are known to have big hearts when it comes to kids.
By Bill Oram The Salt Lake Tribune
The men and women, most covered in leather and tattoos, mounted their motorcycles Sunday morning and watched 13-year-old Dallin Hunsaker stand on a makeshift stage and say, "Riders ready? Start your engines."
Hundreds of engines roared to life, a symphony of large and small Harleys and Hondas, street bikes and dirt bikes. All were ridden by people who showed up to donate and ride in the fundraiser for Shriners Hospital for Children.
Behind the 13-year-old boy with spiked blond hair and braces, Dallin's mother Darralyn Hunsaker scrunched her face and smiled. She looked out on the crowd of riders idling in the parking lot of Wright's Motorcycle Parts and Accessories in South Salt Lake, and savored the moment.
Without Shriners she doesn't know how she would have found treatment for Dallin, who has cerebral palsy.
"To me, it's really touching to see that these guys would take time out of their day," she said.
The ride lasted four hours and took riders through Emigration Canyon, East Canyon, Morgan and ended at West Bountiful Park. Organizer Tim Gallagher said the event had 657 registered riders and raised about $16,000.
"Motorcycle people are so generous, it's just mind boggling," Gallagher said. He is the manager at Wright's and started the charity ride in 1995.
The ride was marred by an accident between two motorcycles on eastbound Interstate 80 in Summit County that sent three people to area hospitals. Two men and a woman were not wearing helmets and suffered head injuries, but were all in stable condition Sunday evening.
Shriners has 22 hospitals nationwide, 18 pediatric hospitals and four burn centers. The Salt Lake hospital serves seven states.
Mike Babcock, the hospital's public relations director, said the motorcycle ride is one of the Shriners' biggest fundraisers.
"These guys love to ride, they're going to ride anyway, why not put the gas money to a good cause?" he said.
Riders said the beautiful weather and worthy cause made for a great day.
"It's the heart, that's all it is," said Bart Burress, who wore a U.S. Army bandana and, like many, sported a trademark handlebar mustache. "We've got big hearts for children."
After Dallin told the bikers to fire up their bikes, a little boy in a wheelchair raised his arms and covered his ears to muffle the noise. Nathan Glad, 3, has brittle bone disease and four times a year receives from Shriners an IV treatment called pamidronate. It builds muscle density and relieves pain. Because people donate to Shriners, Nathan's parents, Rachel and Ryan Glad, said they have no idea how much the care costs.
Before the race, Jon Harris, who serves on the hospital's board of governors and was dressed as clown "Spinner," kneeled down to be at eye level with Nathan. He smiled and playfully said hello. Then he looked up.
"This is what we're all about," he said, "right here."