YONKERS, N.Y., APR. 27 — The last Sunday in April I jumped out of bed early—real early—and stuck my head out the window to check the weather. The sun was breaking out and no rain… today will be a good day to ride! I was happy to see this because I have been planning this day for months. This isn’t the usual run for me; today I will be trading my Harley in for an SUV loaded with tables, chairs, bagels, doughnuts and coffee pots. I am a member of the Yonkers Fire Department, and together, we have been heading up the Hogs 4 Hope Falls to the River Run for five years now.
Hogs 4 Hope is a charity motorcycle event that benefits the Ronald McDonald House of New York. RMHNY is a home away from home for kids and their families while in New York City-area hospitals seeking treatment for childhood cancers. RMH has held a special place in the hearts of the YFD for the last 20 years after one of our members had a stay at the House while battling cancer. Since then the members of the YFD have hosted several yearly events for the RMHNY, raising tens of thousands of dollars annually.
It is because of our involvement with RMHNY that we were asked to join Hogs 4 Hope, originally to help feed all of the riders. You all know what they say about firefighters and food: Yes, we can cook! The following year we were asked if we would be interested in heading Hogs 4 Hope and, five years later, here we are!
I arrived at the registration point, Croton Gorge Park in Croton, New York, at about 8:00 a.m., and not long after our co-hosts, the Road Kings MC, arrived. These guys are great. They helped out right away setting up the tables with coffee, bagels and doughnuts for the incoming riders. Haymond Law Firm has been an amazing supporter of Hogs 4 Hope and they sent down several of the Haymond girls to pass out their events calendars and sell raffle tickets to the riders as well. Other event sponsors from New York included Empire Harley-Davidson of New Rochelle, Genuine Motorworks out of Brooklyn and Con-tees Custom Printing in Mt. Vernon.
Croton Gorge Park is a beautiful park at the base of the Croton Dam, and with the Croton reservoir filled from all the snow this past winter, the spillway was amazing. It was a great location for the registration, which took place from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. Riders arrived slowly, but as the morning warmed up the crowd grew and by 10:15 we had surpassed the previous year’s total. With 45 minutes left till we departed, we were very happy with the turnout. At 11:00 a.m. all the riders had been signed in, the motorcycle police had given their safety speech and the kickstands up was announced. With 18 motorcycle police leading the way, 418 riders, four rat rods and one police cruiser taking up the rear, the ride was on.
It was a 32-mile, 90-minute ride zig-zagging through Westchester County, New York, to the afterparty at the JFK Marina and Park at the edge of the Hudson River in Yonkers. As we pulled into the afterparty, the aroma of the barbecued food and pig roasting was making us all hungry so I grabbed a plate, a pulled pork sandwich and a scoop of the chili from the firehouse chili contest and wandered over to listen to the rockabilly sounds of Big Daddy Deluxe and Jess. In between sets Jess was the emcee for the Miss Hope pin-up girl contest. The competition contest featured several of the ladies from the Suburbia Roller Derby league out of Westchester County, and after three rounds Miss Hope 2014 was awarded to Miss Dizzy Doll.
The members of the Yonkers Fire Department really know how to throw a party, providing amazing entertainment and great food. Attendance was close to 500 and we raised $20,000.10 for RMH and $700 for The Aidan Jack Seeger Foundation. The 10 cents is a “dime from Aidan,” which has special significance to the Seeger family.
If you’re around Westchester, New York, at the end of April next year, please keep an eye out for the 7th annual Hogs 4 Hope Falls to the River Run on April 26. Check out www.hogs4hope.com for more information as the date draws near.
(This article Hogs Are in the House was published in the July 2014 issue of Thunder Press, North edition.)