Story and Photos by Diana Olmstead
On a beautiful Sunday morning in June nearly 600 riders from all across the Puget Sound hopped on their bikes for a great cause – Children’s Ride 16!
This year the riders had several options regarding the “ride” portion of this event. They could gather at any one of the seven local Puget Sound Harley-Davidson dealerships for a group ride to all of the festivities at the Enumclaw Expo Center or riders could create their own individual routes to Enumclaw.
The Children’s Ride 16 party officially began at 10am when hundreds of bikes rumbled into the parking lot. Riders put their kickstands down, took off their helmets, chatted with friends, checked out some of the cool scoots parked around them and headed towards the registration area near the main gate.
The Enumclaw Expo Center is a great venue for a motorcycle event. There was ample parking. The grounds were large enough to accommodate the crowd and offered ample places to sit, a vendor area, a huge stage, a beer garden and barbecue area in the grassy landscape. A building nearby was filled with several tables featuring 100 interesting, unique and exquisite silent auction items up for bid.
Just after 11:00am Spike O’Neill, a local and wildly popular Harley riding, radio DJ and rock singer, took to the stage as the emcee of this year’s Children’s Ride 16. Spike shared with the riders some history about the 16 year old Ride. He explained that it was founded by Rick Torres in 1995 and that year the ride drew 100 bikes. Spike reminded us of the importance of Seattle Children’s Hospital and their Uncompensated Care Program which assists thousands of northwest families who’ve had, or will have, a sick or injured child treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Spike went on to go over the itinerary of the days events and just before stepping off stage he introduced the Seattle Cossacks Motorcycle Stunt & Drill Team who performed some amazing maneuvers to the delight of the crowd. About a half hour later VooDoo Barbeque began serving the hungry riders mouth watering pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, cookies & soda which was included with registration.
As riders were peeling off their jackets and hoodies in the hot summer sun, local Seattle band Shelley and the Curves (minus one Curve?) took to the stage. They played a great mix of rock and soul cover tunes from the likes of Blondie, Joan Jett, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Ray Vaughn to name just a few.
After the band played a few sets, the freaky and bizarre, 6’2” German born comedian, Manuela Horn took center stage doing her schtick of yodeling and singing while dressed as a dominatrix.
The next thing that caught everyone’s attention was Keith Wong firing up this year’s auction bike and rolling it in front of the stage! The bike, which began as a 2011 Harley-Davidson Road King was donated by Downtown H-D, Destination H-D and Eastside H-D and had been completely customized by Keith Wong and his crew at Zacky’s Custom Rods into a jaw dropping, show stopper! Many, many long hours were spent in Keith’s shop creating this stunning, one of a kind, bad ass piece of rolling art.
With the bike parked and all eyes looking towards the stage, the Harley-Davidson Motorclothes fashion show began! The show was a huge hit by both the ladies and the men! The fashion models were a group of men and women from Destination H-D, Sound H-D, Downtown H-D, the GoGo Promo girls and the Venturettes! They all rocked their attire like super cool supermodels and the crowd loved it!
The high energy continued as John Curley, a former TV host who went on to become a professional auctioneer and highly successful business owner, started the bidding for the live auction items. John is a vibrant, highly skilled auctioneer. He made each and every auction item come to life including a 1991 Heritage that was generously donated by a person who is no longer able to ride. The crowd was enthralled by his fun loving, fast talking, fury of words! The auction came to an apex when the bidding began on this years tricked out Children’s Ride 16 auction bike! I couldn’t help but chuckle as I watched the heads of those in the crowd as they followed the heart pounding back and forth bike bidding! Congrats to Terry and his winning bid!
But for many, the moment that touched the core of their hearts was when 17 year old Kirsey Butler, who rode on the back of a motorcycle to the Ride, bravely spoke about the recent loss of her younger sister Rhema. Kirsey’s 14 year old sister battled a rare form of childhood cancer and had been a patient at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She had hoped to speak at the Ride… but instead she received her angel wings just weeks before fulfilling that wish.
After the event I asked Wendy Funicello of the Imagine Guild if there was anything they’d like to share with our readers and this was her reply:
“Our sincere thanks and appreciation for the ongoing support the past 16 years. This was a transitional year as we returned Children’s Ride to a one day event. We were looking for a venue that provided stability and an opportunity to grow and we think we found it at the Enumclaw Expo Center. We started the planning year with three goals: 1) Reduce our expenses. 2) Secure a long term venue 3) Provide a fun event that people will want to attend year after year.
We want to acknowledge our event sponsors who donate their money, time and resources to make Children’s Ride a success year after year. We couldn’t do it without them! Also, a HUGE thank you to the supporting HOG Chapters and their Road Captains for leading rides to the Enumclaw Expo Center from their dealerships. Ron Orr and his crew at Hinshaw’s Motorcycle Store lead a ride from Auburn too. Save the date: Children’s Ride 17 is Sunday, June 24 at the Enumclaw Expo Center. Check our website www.childrens-ride.com and Facebook www.facebook.com/childrensride for updates!”
The majority of riders that I spoke with said it was great to see this event get back to its roots of being an unpretentious motorcycle event and they were looking forward to next years Ride! At print time, the unofficial total of money raised for the Uncompensated Care Program was $125,00.00.