They may look like grizzlies astride their motorcycles, but they’re just teddy bears at heart, said the coordinator of a motorcycle security force that’ll roll into Spokane on Saturday morning for America’s Kids Run.
The herd of 90 motorcyclists will come from around the region. They’ll roar into Joe Albi Stadium and take up stations around the track. There, they’ll provide protection for thousands of youngsters in the 22nd Annual America’s Kids Run, which starts at 8:30 a.m.
Formerly known as Junior Bloomsday, America’s Kids Run bills itself as the largest children’s running event in the world. It includes Spokane-area kids as well as children living on military bases around the world, who race in May.
Organizers tried other volunteer groups, but they just didn’t seem to have enough muscle to keep spectators off the field, said Teri Troyer, volunteer organizer of the motorcycle activity.
“People see all the leather-clad (riders) and they think Hell’s Angels or something,” quipped Troyer. “That’s enough to scare people away.”
But take away the bikers’ rides and their gear and “you’d think they were your attorney or your next-door neighbor – and they probably are,” Troyer said.
“They make sure nobody bothers the kids and cheer them on as they go by,” she said. “If a kid falls down and skins a knee, they’ll pick them up and brush them off.”
They’ll represent such clubs as The High Rollers, the Roving Gamblers, the Hoodoo Hippies and the Kootenai Road Dogs.
And they’ll rumble in on everything from junkers to bikes with sidecars and chrome-encrusted custom jobs that cost $30,000 or more, Troyer said.
An STA bus driver by day, her passion is hitting the road on her pinkish-purple 2003 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic, with white doves handpainted on the gas tank.
Also in the flock will be Ernie “Rev” Crocker, of Hayden. He’ll fire up his 1999 Honda Valkyrie and ride in from Idaho for the race.
“It’s good PR for bikers and good community service,” said Crocker, who runs a Christian ministry for bikers. He said he hopes after adults see motorcyclists performing charity work they’ll make room when they spot them on the open road.
Troyer said riders regularly rev up for kids’ events. Poker runs and other rides benefit such causes as The Ronald McDonald House, Shriners Hospital for Children and various food banks.
Most folks don’t realize the extent of the charity work motorcyclists do, Troyer said.
At the close of the races, “there’s no banquet. No prize. All (riders) get is a T-shirt and the satisfaction of helping kids. This is something they do out of the goodness of their hearts.”