A local motorcycle group with a Saucon Valley connection recently donated $6,000 to pediatric cancer patients at St. Luke’s University Hospital Network; funds raised by the group’s June 4 Caring for Kids Ride from Keystone Harley-Davidson in Parryville, Carbon County, to the hospital’s Anderson Campus in Bethlehem Township, where a family-friendly celebration featuring live entertainment, refreshments and a check presentation was held that afternoon.
The idea for the ride was conceived by Gino Russo, manager of the Belmont Inne in Lower Saucon Township and the Pennsylvania liaison for Bikers Against Bullies, a national organization that promotes acceptance of differences among individuals.
The Lehigh Valley Chapter of Bikers Against Bullies holds a fundraising event each year to support a local cause, and this year they chose the St. Luke’s pediatric cancer program as the recipient, a news release from St. Luke’s University Health Network explained.
“We do anything to help kids,” Russo said, crediting his colleagues with organizing the ride and event. “People tend to complain about petty [things], but many kids with pediatric cancer…they have it tough. We want to help them to smile, play and enjoy their days as much as they can.”
During the celebration following the Caring for Kids Ride, several members of Bikers Against Bullies who had been letting their hair grow long–including Russo–shaved their heads as a symbol of their solidarity with kids stricken with cancer, who also had the opportunity to sign the bikers’ heads.
The Lehigh Valley Chapter of Bikers Against Bullies includes more than 150 members.
Other local motorcycle club chapters such as the Nam Knights, the Leathernecks and the American Legion Riders participated in the ride.
“We all support each other,” Russo said. “If another club has a benefit ride, we ride with them to support them and they do the same for us. The stereotype of bikers from the 1970s is not the way it is today. We care about our communities–especially the kids–and have big hearts.”
Some of the area business sponsors of the Caring for Kids Ride included Karl Ehmer Meats, Unangst Tree Farm, Elek Plumbing, Dom’s Westgate Pizza, Belmont Inne patrons, Stevie Blatz Entertainment, The Café, Auto Zone, Copperhead Grille, Panera, Wegmans, Party City and many more.
“Every sponsor has a connection to at least one of our club members,” Russo noted. “The sponsors were very generous as everything for this event was donated. Everybody is interested in helping these kids. I didn’t think this idea would explode the way it has, but the response has been amazing.”
Photo Credit: St. Luke’s University Health Network