Before I started riding my own bike and got involved in the riding community up to my eyeballs, I supported other groups that shared my common interests: charity events, blood drives, pricey dinners and such. But none were as caring and support-minded as bikers. I think maybe it’s because we all realize that any one of us could be dealt that bad hand at any time and might need the help. I guess it’s kind of like the idea of “paying it forward.” I remember after I went down, a friend put together a benefit to help me out, and more than 500 riders showed up that day. It was an event I will never forget, and each hug touched my heart and gave me hope and faith in humanity. I’m proud to say that here in Central Florida that spirit is alive and well. This love and support extends way past just the human consideration, too. On February 22, a benefit run left a private residence in Sanford heading west with stops in Sorrento, Eustis and Tavares before ending at the Veteran’s Club in Lake County. Proceeds from this event went to the Nakiia Foundation in support of our furry, four-legged friends both wild and domestic… Back in early February, one of our local police officers was killed while carrying out his duties. Deputy Jonathan Scott Pine was a young husband and father, and the community was brought to its knees when they learned of his senseless death. On March 1, Romansa’s Café and the Police Explorer Post in Longwood held a benefit to help out the family. Although it wasn’t a poker run like most of us are familiar with, it was attended by many riders and non-riders alike who wanted to express their support and toss $10 into the fund designated for the family. The restaurant also contributed 30 percent of their daily revenue to Officer Pine’s family—a strong gesture showing love and support… On the same day, another benefit took place to aid another segment of society close to our hearts: children. This is when riders, and non-riders as well, rolled into the Umatilla Eagles Club in Lake County for a run to support St. Jude’s Childrens Research Hospital. Leaving out of the Eagles Club, they took a nice scenic ride to Pirate’s Pub in Paisley, JJ’s in Sorrento, Irene’s in Tavares, the Corner Pub in Eustis and ended back at the Eagles for music, food and lots of fun and prizes… And just down the road a few miles, the 5th annual Ride for the Stone started and ended at the Elk’s Lodge in Winter Garden. This worthy event raises money to provide grave markers for parents who have lost children and cannot afford a headstone. A hearty breakfast was available at the lodge for those arriving before the 9:00 a.m. registration, while the after-ride party included music, good food, games and a 50/50 drawing… To kick off the first official day of Bike Week on March 8, a good showing of bikes showed up at a Irene’s Lounge in Tavares to make donations and raise money for the food banks in Lake County. The registration fee was just $10, but participants were also asked to bring personal hygiene items or nonperishable food items to add to pantries at the various food banks. The event started and ended at Irene’s (a legendary biker-friendly bar in Tavares), and was sponsored by an online biker forum called InformedRider.com… Those not heading directly to Daytona had a good opportunity to support another special and very worthwhile event on March 9: the 6th annual Sam Swope Ride that rolled out of the Bahia Shrine Temple in Orlando heading for Seminole Harley in Sanford. This is a highly publicized and well-supported ride since the proceeds go toward the great work the Shriners do for children. The preregistration of $25 guaranteed riders a nice breakfast, a chance at the door prize drawing and an event T-shirt and pin. (The day of the event, registration was increased to $30 but shirts and pins weren’t included in the price.) Hefty cash prizes and lots of desirable items were also part of the afternoon fun. There was even a special drawing for a new Softail with the raffle tickets only being $100 each. But the lesser prizes in that raffle were nothing to disregard and included five-day/four-night stays in luxury resorts in Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. The icing on the afternoon cake was a performance of Foghat to wrap up the day… Most of the events the following week were in Daytona and part of the Bike Week mayhem, which will be covered very well in the other articles and stories in this edition. Until next time, ride safe and take care of each other. God bless.