BALDWIN PARK, CALIF., MAY 17—Before the slow red tape of insurance benefits begins, a check of at least $2,000 is presented by the Choir Boys LEMC within two days to the family of an officer who has been killed in the line of duty for their immediate needs. These benefit rides not only raise funds, but they also honor the memory of the fallen officers. Since the club’s inception in 1991, more than $150,000 has been donated to families in seven states.
Beginning at Laidlaw’s H-D on a sunny day with a generous continental breakfast spread across several tables (including cookies hand-decorated with their scales of justice logo), riders were greeted with smiling faces from wives of the club members. The subtext here is a reminder that spouses bear an incredible burden of support for their mates’ chosen profession. After making a lazy loop of restaurants to build their poker hands, riders finished at the Long Beach Police Officers Association Park. It was breezy under a grove of shady trees, and there were vendors for the curious along with a great lunch catered by Galaxy Burgers, and drinks—including wine! (Guess I won’t be driving anytime soon.) Raffle tickets were as popular as the beer, with a special prize of a Mossberg shotgun. How ya gonna pack that thing home legally?
By noon most participants and supporting clubs had arrived including the Sentinels Arizona chapter, Gunfighters, Black Sheep and Hired Guns MC’s. I found a triplicate of LE blue dressers parked side-by-side in the parking lot along with several primo bikes that would enter the bike show for some very tall trophies. How ya gonna pack those things home?
After a great lunch (Greek salad, barbecue beans and flavorful baked chicken) with the band Shades of LA playing in the background, I checked out the clutch of vendors, which included Candy Coat with their jealousy-inducing show bikes, Law Tigers (how appropriate), Scentsy home aromatics, Organo Gold coffee, and Old Dudes Rule T-shirts for both adults and toddlers. A new offering for the gals, “Dudettes Rule,” purposely omitted the “Old” when owner Phil Singer was good-naturedly threatened by women. He prefers to only attend charity events and has helped the DAV since the company’s beginnings.
Outside at the final checkpoint, participant “Boxer” dejectedly pulled his final card and turned away, never believing he would complete his straight for the winning high hand and a $200 prize. Olivia Jacobs’ low hand won $100.
Prominently displayed on the stage railing was the annual banner listing each downed officer being honored who died last year. Folks were encouraged to sign the banner, which was auctioned off at the end of the event. At 2:30 p.m., National Treasurer Irish Mike, accompanied by California President Lance, solemnly read the names of the 10 officers being honored, which was followed by a moment of silence. This is where I choked up—and I was not alone.
Next, spokesmodel “Bunny” from the Law Tigers held aloft the shotgun while the winning ticket was drawn for the absent winner. Old School patches were then handed out to Ted Falencki for 10 years, AV8R for his 15 years, and KIKO for 20 years.
The show trophies were placed before each winning bike: Best Custom, Steve Long; Best Softail, Miguel Bustamante; Best Bagger, “Sam” Coleman; and Best of Show, a very gleaming, engraved chrome number owned by Victor Fierro. I watched Sam wrangle the trophy into her friend’s backpack, so I guess that’s how you pack it home.
Fresh on everyone’s mind has been the tragic recent string of deaths of five LAPD officers in the short span of only four months. These officers will be honored next year. But the remainder of the day was spent with cigars, beer and camaraderie, ever mindful of the meaning of these runs and that no one is immune. For those of you in Arizona, be sure to attend the next Cuffs Run on October 4 (www.cuffsrun.com for details). Check out www.choirboyslemc.org for more information on their upcoming benefit runs in your region.