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4th annual It’s All About the Kids Motorcycle Ride: Wide eyes and whopping smiles

By Jen Strub

Minneapolis, Minn., July 19—It takes months and months of planning for fundraisers and usually, they are over in a matter of hours. But I’m proud to say that the efforts of Robert “Rebel” Laughter, the Confederation of Clubs of Minnesota, the Minnesota Motorcycle Club Coalition and a lot of other clubs and good people helped him ended up with the very successful event—the 4th annual It’s All About the Kids Motorcycle Ride. It’s not an easy task and we would all like to give a big thank you to Rebel for all this time, effort and hard work. It is very much appreciated by a lot of people, especially the ride’s beneficiary: the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota.

The day’s events started at the Whiskey Junction with breakfast and some awesome service by their bartenders and waitstaff Little, Missy, and Sharlona. Thank you; you girls you went out of your way to keep all those bikers happy.

Club members present a $5,816 check to Children’s Hospital representatives

Club members present a $5,816 check to Children’s Hospital representatives

It’s always a pleasure to see all the motorcycle clubs come together for such a good cause. There is such a large community of biker clubs and, unfortunately, stereotypes have arisen to give them bad names. People tend to focus on the negative stories they hear, so what these men and women are doing is promoting the positive and getting people to recognize the good we do. In my experience, bikers have some of the biggest hearts out there, and folks need to start looking past those patches and seeing those big hearts.

So after breakfast we saddled up those iron horses and headed out on our journey to the Children’s Hospital to make our always-memorable arrival to meet and greet the staff and children that spend their days there. In fact, we were greeted by a number of staff who were more than prepared for our arrival. They had traffic directors waiting for us and directing us into parking areas that ultimately made our arrival very smooth. It’s not easy parking almost a hundred bikes all at once; kudos on that one!

A few bikers show their softer side while coloring with the kids

A few bikers show their softer side while coloring with the kids

And let’s not forget to mention the smiles we put on all those kids’ faces. My heart flutters when I watch these little kids’ faces light up and their eyes get all big when they see almost 100 bikes pull up to the hospital and they know it’s all for them. It’s truly breathtaking. Nothing melts your heart more than watching a big ol’ badass biker coloring a picture or sharing a Popsicle with a small child… and this is what we witnessed at the Children’s Hospital the day of the run. The hospital provided a large room for us to interact with the children while they got their faces painted, made drawings and shared their stories with us.

Along with all of that we were greeted by Briana Oakes and Lauren Wallerius, two outstanding employees of the Children’s Hospital who managed to go above and beyond to make us feel welcome and introduce us not only to the children, but also to the hospital and all it has to offer. Briana and Lauren gave some of our group tours of the hospital, highlighting some features of such as the Ronald McDonald House that not only provides accommodations for family members of the sick, but also provides many extra amenities to make the already-stressful situation a little easier for parents and family of the children being treated at the hospital.

Run organizer Robert “Rebel” Laughter with Lauren Wallerius and Briana Oakes

Run organizer Robert “Rebel” Laughter with Lauren Wallerius and Briana Oakes

Briana also informed us about many of the new and exciting things that the hospital is the first of its kind to provide to its patients. For example the Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the first hospital in the world to have its own onsite “Geek Squad.” They’re right there in the hospital 24 hours a day to keep all systems go and immediately address any problems that may arise. And the newly expanded UnitedHealthcare Pediatric Emergency Department at Children’s Minneapolis has a new helipad as well as ophthalmology, and plastic and pediatric surgery specialists available 24/7. In June 2013 they became the first Level 1 pediatric trauma center in a freestanding children’s hospital. So the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota had so much more to offer than just bikers and smiles.

Once we finished up at the hospital and said our goodbyes to all those sweet little children we got the pleasure of filling the streets with thunder once again and headed back to the Whiskey Junction for live music by Zeew Factor, Belfast Cowboys and Pork Chop. They put on a great show and literally had people dancing in the streets. Also waiting for us back at Whiskey Junction was a silent auction with a huge array of items—everything from iPads to oil changes; just one more effort to raise those big bucks for those little kids. And after all was said and done, the day’s events took in a whopping $5,816 for the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota.

Riders line up at Whiskey Junction for take-off

Riders line up at Whiskey Junction for take-off

So once again on behalf of bikers everywhere I would like to thank Rebel for all his hard work, all the motorcycle clubs who came out and paid their respects and showed their support, and to the Children’s Hospital and its employees who always go out of their way to welcome us and make our event run smoothly. Thank you to all who went above and beyond to make our event a success. We’ll see you all next year!

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