This past Sunday, I attended an annual event for the first time that really hits close to home for me. Bikers for Babies is a benefit ride for the March of Dimes that celebrated its 18th year in Kansas City this year.
In 1995, 130 riders got together and raised $3,000 in the first Bikers for Babies ride in Kansas City. This year, at Kansas Speedway, more than 5,000 riders came to show their support and raised $650,000, bringing the total for the event to more than $6.2 million in 18 years.
There are other Bikers for Babies rides around the country, but the one in Kansas City is, by far, the largest. I started donating to the cause about five years ago, but I had never had a chance to actually go and check out the event until this year. Boy, am I glad I did!
Along with the ride, there was a vender expo, live music, a motorcycle stunt rider and a few other small things. It was truly amazing to me seeing all of those motorcycles and all of the different types of people there showing their support.
There was no way I could ever have gotten to all 5,000+ participants and given them the thanks they deserve, but everyone who showed up knew exactly why we were there and what it meant. My donation was just a small fraction of the total raised, but that contribution and just being there was the best way I could think of to give the thanks that was so well deserved for a ride that, the way I see it, was happening for me.
The March of Dimes, for anyone who may not be familiar with them, is a charitable organization that was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt that was originally called the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. Roosevelt formed the organization after his own personal battle with polio to fund research for vaccines.
Once their original mission was accomplished and polio was effectively eradicated, the March of Dimes moved on to its current mission of fighting and preventing all birth defects and infant mortality. Since 2003, the primary focus of the March of Dimes has been the Prematurity Campaign, but prevention and treatment of birth defects is still a major focal point.
As many people who know me are already aware, that really hits home to me because I was born with Spina Bifida and without the research and advancement in medical technology the March of Dimes has led, I almost certainly wouldn't be here. And not only that, I also have a younger brother who was born eight weeks premature. Without the March of Dimes, it's quite likely that my parents would have one kid today instead of three.
Bikers for Babies has always been an event that held a special place in my heart and that isn't ever going to change. I may not have been to the ride before this year, but my first time definitely won't be my last.
If anyone who happened to be at the ride this year, or any other, happens to be reading this, thank you.
All right, I know I'm going all over the place a little bit today, but no column would be complete this week without mentioning that its Nevada High School Homecoming week. The Tigers, under head coach Wes Beachler, won last year's Homecoming game over the Mustangs of McDonald County High School by a final score of 32-19 and are coming into this year's contest against the El Dorado Springs Bulldogs hoping to get a streak going.
I don't know about anyone else, but I almost feel like I'm back in high school myself this week because I'm excited. El Dorado Springs is bound to bring some unique challenges to the table as every new opponent on any athletic schedule can, but Beachler seems confident that they won't be too much of a surprise or drastically different from any other team the Tigers have faced thus far.
I'm sure there has been at least as much excitement around the high school as I've seen around the newspaper office and in town for this matchup and it will undoubtedly live up to every bit of it. Good luck, Tigers.