Archive for Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bikers tour area, raise funds for K.C. youth center

July 25, 2007

There might not have been as many bikers as in the area Saturday as there were at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but the Kansas City Poker Run Motorcycle Rally held its own.

It brought more than 600 leather-clad bikers to Tonganoxie on Saturday.

And, it raised roughly $30,000 for a local charity.

For three years, motorcycle enthusiasts from around the area have been hitting the road on their two-wheeled "Hogs," traveling to places like Lexington Mo., or Lake Jacomo in Missouri while raising money for Urban Youth Strategies youth center in midtown Kansas City, Mo.

"We are attempting to get kids off the streets," said Tom Heck, one of the rally's volunteer organizers. "It gives (the youths) a place to go where it's safe and where there are different activities. They can come in and if they need help with school work, there will be tutors there that can help them out."

This year's ride was titled Wings and Wheels because the rally teamed with The Heart of America Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. Bikers began the day at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan., and then went to Danny Zeck Ford in Leavenworth for their first stop.

The bikers then made their way through Leavenworth and down Leavenworth County Road 5 to Tonganoxie, where they made their second stop at Chieftain Park.

About 20 minutes later, the bikers traveled down Fourth Street to U.S. Highway 24-40 and south to Kansas Highway 32. From there, bikers worked their way to Eudora and then down to Baldwin, home to Baker University.

Finally the bikers continued heading south and east until they came to their final stop at the New Century Airport, near Gardner for the World War II Warbird Expo.

Heck said they joined forces with the expo to help encourage the city youths to participate in a new aviation program.

"They don't have a whole lot of exposure to that," he said. "This is a good way to spark an interest in that and get them introduced to that area so they can possibly go on and become pilots or pursue their private pilot's license."

Besides raising money for the youth center, the other part of the rally was to get motorcycle lovers to come together and to explore parts of Missouri or Kansas.

"My sole purpose in putting the route together is to show everyone historical sights and places in the surrounding areas they've never been to before. Most people that own motorcycles are looking for routes to take," Heck said.

This was the first year Tonganoxie residents Gary and Pam Blackmer joined this rally. And after riding the whole route on their 1999 Honda Valkyrie, it won't be their last.

"Overall I'd rate it as close to a first-class ride as you're going to get," Gary Blackmer said.

He said he appreciated how well the route was planned out and how the organizers didn't budge at the first sign of rain. He also appreciated how well Tonganoxie represented itself.

Bikers also participated in a raffle to win prizes, such as free rides on the World War II airplanes and the grand prizes of a 2007 Harley-Davidson Super Glide and a 2007 Yamaha Roadliner.

Heck and the other volunteers hope to make next year's event even bigger, no matter what kind of motorcycle one rides -- import or domestic. "As far as I'm concerned if you are riding two wheels you are part of the brotherhood," Heck said.

Estuardo Garcia

egarcia@theworldco.info

There might not have been as many bikers as at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but the Kansas City Poker Run Motorcycle Rally did bring more than 600 leather-clad bikers to Tonganoxie on Saturday.

For three years motorcycle enthusiasts from around the area have been hitting the road on their two-wheeled "Hogs," traveling to places like Lexington Mo., or Lake Jacomo in Missouri while raising money for Urban Youth Strategies youth center in midtown Kansas City, Mo.

"We are attempting to get kids off the streets," said Tom Heck, one of the rally's volunteer organizers. "It gives (the youths) a place to go where it's safe and where there are different activities. They can come in and if they need help with school work, there will be tutors there that can help them out."

This year's ride was titled Wings and Wheels, since the rally teamed with The Heart of America Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. Bikers began the day at the CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan., and then went to Danny Zeck Ford in Leavenworth for their first stop.

The bikers then made their way through Leavenworth and down Leavenworth County Road 5 to Tonganoxie, where they made their second stop at Chieftain Park.

About 20 minutes later, the bikers traveled down Fourth Street to U.S. Highway 24-40 and south to Kansas Highway 32. From there, they worked their way to Eudora and then down to Baldwin City and their third stop at Baker University.

Finally the bikers continued heading south and east until they came to their final stop at the New Century Airport, near Gardner for the WWII Warbird Expo.

Heck said part of the reason to join forces with the expo was to help encourage the city youths to participate in a new aviation program.

"They don't have a whole lot of exposure to that," he said. "This is a good way to spark an interest in that and get them introduced to that area so they can possibly go on and become pilots or pursue their private pilot's license."

Besides raising money for the youth center, the other part of the rally was to get motorcycle lovers to come together and to explore parts of Missouri or Kansas.

"My sole purpose in putting the route together is to show everyone historical sights and places in the surrounding areas they've never been to before. Most people that own motorcycles are looking for routes to take," Heck said.

This was the first year Gary and Pam Blackmer, of Tonganoxie, joined this rally, and after riding the whole route on their 1999 Honda Valkyrie, it won't be their last.

"Overall I'd rate it as close to a first-class ride as you're going to get," Gary Blackmer said.

He said he appreciated how well the route was planned out and how the organizers didn't budge at the first sign of rain. He also appreciated how well Tonganoxie represented itself.

The bikers also were able to participate in a raffle to win prizes such as free rides on the WWII airplanes and the grand prize of a 2007 Harley-Davidson Super Glide and a 2007 Yamaha Roadliner.

Heck and the other volunteers hope to make next year's event even bigger, no matter what kind of motorcycle you ride, import or domestic. "As far as I'm concerned if you are riding two wheels you are part of the brotherhood," Heck said.

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