Motorcycles’ thunder means help and joy for Shriners Hospital kids

From all over Portland – see what it looks like when more than 3,000 leather-clad moto-bikers show up in one place and one time!  Exclusive photos, and a heart-warming holiday story is here …

Photo favorites at the yearly event are Santa (he leads the ride) and the elf-ettes –Denise, Billy Joe, Linda, and Meressa.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From as far away as the Woodstock neighborhood to the east, the low, intense rumble of at least 3,000 Harley Davidsons, Hondas, and even a few motor scooters could be heard – as the 31st Annual A.B.A.T.E. “Toy Run” to benefit Shiners Hospital for Children® got underway in the Brooklyn neighborhood on December 4.

Even a few raindrops and a howling northeast wind didn’t keep each rider from bringing a new toy – usually a plush animal – to the staging area at the TriMet lot on SE 17th Avenue, just north of Holgate Boulevard.

Some of the 3,000 bikes that would fit in the TriMet parking lot, where the annual ride to Shriners Hospital begins. Countless more motorcycles lined SE 17th Avenue.

TriMet driver Bruce Patton says he volunteers to drive the full-length bus, packed full of too many toys to count, to the hospital because “It’s a blast!” Helping him are Elizabeth Patton and Cameron Dahl.

Although sponsored by A.B.A.T.E. of Oregon, Inc. – an organization that promotes motorcycle awareness, education, safety, and liberty, through community involvement and legislative action – all two- and three-wheeled riders, whether club affiliated or not, were invited to the annual riding party.

The riders started massing before 10:00 a.m. for the seasonal outing that took the group north on SE 17th Avenue, west across the Ross Island Bridge, and up Marquam Hill to the Shriners Hospital.

A DJ at the TriMet lot played mostly 70s rock music; and many bikers fingered a raffle ticket they’d purchased for $10, hoping to win a brand new Harley-Davidson FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide that would be given away to the participants, just before the ride began a few minutes after noon.

Barry Bede, Chairman of the Board of Shiners Hospital for Children® – Portland, says this is one of favorite events to attend.

Walking among the motorcycles, so densely parked one could hardly walk through the bus lot, Barry Bede, Chairman of the Board of Shiners Hospital for Children® in Portland, was smiling.

“I drove down from Tacoma early this morning to be here,” grinned Bede, who is also president of US Ecology. “I wouldn’t miss being here, among these wonderful men and women who ride in this event. They’re taking time out this morning to have fun – but for a purpose: Helping the kids out, at Shriners Hospital.”

Over the past 16 years, A.B.A.T.E. has gathered contributions totaling in excess of $437,000, Bede said. “We believe that this year’s event will raise another $30,000.”

Shriners Hospital patient Gideon Fay draws the winning raffle ticket, awarding one of the motorcyclist participants a shiny new ride.

A few minutes past noon Shriners Hospital patient Gideon Fay drew the raffle ticket and the winner’s name was announced — and the recipient’s shriek of joy could be heard from a hundred motorcycles away.

“Gideon’s power chair was one of three donated by A.B.A.T.E. last year,” Bebe pointed out. “As tough as many of these motorcycle riders look, when it comes to helping disabled kids, they’re all heart.”

Here come first wave of riders heading out, all destined for “Pill Hill”.

As mighty engines roared to life – the annual epic ride ready to begin – a full-sized bus was also warming up, with volunteer Tri-Met driver Bruce Patton at the wheel. “There’s no way to know how many toys are packed in here,” he said. “As you can see, it’s filled from front to back. I love doing this; it’s a blast!”

Seldom does one see so many people having so much fun, and doing so much good.

For more information about the Shriners Hospital, see their website: CLICK HERE to view it.

Out they come, more than 3,000 motorcyclists – all riding for what they say is a wonderful cause – exit the TriMet lot on SE 17th Ave. in Brooklyn on the 2010 A.B.A.T.E. Toy Run.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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