Bikers Hit the Road to Raise Money, Awareness for Riley Kids
Writer: Suzanne Huntzinger
Photography Provided by Miracle Ride
Put on that leather jacket, fasten your helmet, get ready for a wild ride. It’s time for the 25th Anniversary Miracle Ride benefiting the Riley Children’s Foundation. The foundation makes it possible to provide important treatments and programs for Riley patients.
Over 3,000 biker dudes and biker babes will be taking to the streets June 2-3 for the Miracle Ride. The event starts Saturday with the poker runs. Riders registered for the poker runs start from various points outside of Indy, including Ft. Wayne, Muncie, Bloomington and Munster. On their way to Indy, they’ll make stops at various prescribed points to have their poker run passport stamped with a poker hand. The “Big Ride” is Sunday, June 3. Bikers will depart from Allison Transmission, wind through the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, past Riley Hospital for Children and return to the 8 Seconds Saloon.
The 2018 ride will feature some exciting attractions to commemorate the 25th Anniversary milestone. A nationally known artist and employee of Allison Transmission, the Title Sponsor, will be performing. Don’t miss other headliners including a performance from The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Motorcycle Drill Team. Bob and Tom Show’s Tom Griswold and Kristi Lee will be there to introduce the 2018 Miracle Ride Ambassador Families and Miracle Ride Sponsors. One of the Harley motorcycles that will be given away will be on display for photo opportunities.
Miracle Ride is the nation’s largest and longest-running motorcycle charity event, and it’s Riley’s largest independent fundraiser, raising almost $6M since the first ride in 1994.
“If there is ever an easy charity to raise money for, it’s Riley Kids,” says Laura Buckner, Senior Communications Officer for Riley Kids Foundation. “Without this ride event, we would never reach this audience.”
To drive home the impact of Miracle Ride on kids, the foundation selects Ambassador Families as spokespeople. The 2018 Ambassador Families are the Davis family of Fishers and the Theisen family of Noblesville.
The Davis family became connected to Riley when their son, Lucas, developed a severe respiratory infection as a newborn. Although it seemed at first that the doctors had gotten to the bottom of the issues, Lucas continued to experience relapses, saddling him with ear infections, sinus infections and even pertussis.
Through it all, the Davises have remained hopeful because the doctors and other caregivers have remained hopeful. During the process, the Riley doctors have guided Lucas through his care by keeping unwavering focus on the most important part of the care plan: giving Lucas a voice.
As for being an Ambassador Family, the Davises say there are so many reasons they’re grateful to have been chosen.
“We can’t thank people enough for their generosity,” Nicole says. “Their donations provide things for the patients that allow them to lead normal lives. Lucas now lives a normal life. He’s able to pursue his dream of becoming an Olympic gymnast.”
“I’m going to go to College and get a degree in linear genetics,” Lucas adds. “I’m not going to let this define me.”
The Theisen family is the second Ambassador Family, and they’re also hoping to use the platform to spread the good word about the Miracle Ride and about Riley. The Theisen’s daughter, Emily, was born with GA1, a rare genetic metabolic disorder. Emily has endured a pancreatectomy and spleen removal, and her whole intestinal system has been reworked to allow for the transplant of islet cells that deliver insulin to her liver. Like Lucas, Emily spent a lot of time as an in-patient at Riley, and she benefitted from their Child Life Program.
“It’s an honor to be chosen to help promote such a great cause from which we’ve seen so much benefit,” says Chris Theisen, Emily’s father. “Riley can’t provide the world-class services they do without the support of the community.”
The Theisen family plans to participate in some of the ride events.
“Our family is going to be greeting the riders as they finish the poker rides. Then on the day of the ride we have extended family from the area and Michigan coming down to drive along,” Theisen says. “None of us are motorcycle riders, but we will be riding along all the same. It will be very emotional to see the outpouring of support from that many people and to drive past Riley and understand what those in-patient kids and families are going through.”
“I’ve volunteered for The Miracle Ride almost since the very beginning,” he says. “Any sick children who were well enough and wanted to participate were out there cheering us on. Even the toughest biker could not make it past that point without tearing up. After that, I was hooked.”
For more information and a complete list of details about the poker rides and schedule of events on the day of the “Big Ride,” visit miracleride.net. You don’t have to ride to be a part of the fun. You can come out to support the riders or make a donation by going to miracleride.net, or rileykids.org.