Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2005

Charity gets day of thunder

Bikers for Babies stops through Eudora during ride to raise money for babies

September 22, 2005

Sunday morning began with thunderstorms and sputtering rain.

But when the skies cleared, thunder still echoed across Main Street.

The rumbles drew people out from their houses, and led them to the sides of the road with lawn chairs in tow.

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Bikers, thousands of them, whirred by.

They swarmed gas stations, sampled local food and clustered in black leather-clad packs. They shot the breeze and stretched their legs.

Some stopped by to pay homage to DC Custom Cycles, whose owner originally planned on a grand opening to coincide with the arrival of the growling masses of motorcycles.

The riders revved, waved and joked, but just as soon as they arrived, they zoomed off again.

They had to continue the ride, because it was for a righteous cause.

All the riders were part of the 11th annual Kansas City March of Dimes Bikers for Babies Charity Ride.

"If people who don't understand Bikers for Babies could ever imagine seeing their child hooked up with wires and hoses in a hospital, and then worrying every second whether they were going to live, that's what bikers for babies raises money for -- to help prevent that," Tina Lencioni, part owner of DC Custom Cycles, said.

Lencioni and Matt Montgomery, the other owner of DC Custom Cycles, worked to bring the event to Eudora.

Months ago, Montgomery asked the Eudora City Council to close Main Street and planned with local businesses to feed and welcome the riders.

Despite the wet beginning, it seems Montgomery's and Lencioni's efforts paid off.

"We had an estimated 300 to 400 hundred people come into the store," Lencioni said. "A lot of them bought. I talked to Dan at Cutter's and Tommy Pyle, and both were very excited and they had excellent days."

The overall ride prospered as well.

March of Dimes collected $379,000 just from registration fees, and officials expect the total to jump to $480,000 once all the donations are counted, Kathy Bellew, media relations director for March of Dimes said.

March of Dimes estimates more than 5,000 bikes took part, but Lencioni estimates only 3,000 or 4,000 went through Eudora, the only new town on this year's tour.

"A lot of people have said this is the best route we've had so far, they've really enjoyed, it," Bellew said.

This year in Eudora, police directed traffic when the bulk of the bikers arrived. Lencioni said more might need to be done if the ride expands.

"Next year, we'll have to try to make it motorcycles only out there," Lencioni said. "These guys are out there with these great big groups of motorcycles trying to raise money for a great cause. They don't need to worry about cars out pulling out or backing into them. They need to be let go."

Montgomery and Lencioni said they hope they could expand Eudora's role with the ride to a full-scale stop next year.

"Next year will be a little better," Lencioni said. "It will be a little better organized to make it very successful for everyone. It's really an awesome sight to see all those bikes coming through Main Street and know what they are supporting. We should treat them with respect."

As the bikers lounged with their rides parked during a break, or waited in the long line at the convenience stores, they all had similar answers to why they did it.

Lucky Bowls said it was for the cause.

Tonia Bengimin had her reasons.

If she were in the same situations, "I'd want to be helped," she said.

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