Helping disadvantaged south-of-the-border kids – and a whole lot more
Words and photos by Jon DeMaria
It all coalesces, appropriately, at New York Myke’s San Diego Harley-Davidson, the final U.S. stop for hundreds of bikers looking to make their way across the Mexican border for the 15th Annual Rosarito Motorcycle Run. The pack is then given a police escort from Tijuana down to Rosarito with the group being led, again appropriately, by Martin Resendez (AKA El Jefe), founder of Rolling Deep 4 Charities, an organization made up of a tight-knit group of people dedicated to helping less fortunate children on both sides of the border.
“It started about fifteen years ago when my wife Sonia and I were in Rosarito,” says Resendez. “Sonia saw some kids asking for money and told me to give them some. My mother-in-law was an orphan, and we’ve always had a soft spot for kids. That’s when I got the idea to gather some friends from LA and go back down to Rosarito, bringing gifts to an orphanage. Wasn’t a big plan; just get together and ride down to see what we could do. This year people came from many different states including Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. I even met a guy who came all the way from Wyoming who’d heard about it in Thunder Press.”
The RD4C family has grown to dozens of members, holding fundraising events throughout the year to raise money for the kids. The largest is their Toy Run at Dodgers Stadium in early December, which features over 3,000 bikes and 400 show cars.
I always head down ahead of the pack to post up for some good photos. I was running late this year with my girlfriend Catalina on the back and moving at a good clip when, just across the border in Tijuana, I heard the familiar chirping of a siren behind us. I took a peek back and saw that the bike behind me was getting pulled over by a motorcycle cop. Just as I began to sigh, another chirp. Oh shit, I thought, he’s stopping me. But then he blows by me with the other bike following, waving his hand for me to get behind them. Not wanting to argue the point, I dropped in behind them – and it was on!
Now, I’ve been in plenty of police-escorted events, but nothing even close to this. We proceeded to race through the middle of traffic, cutting cars slalom-style with an occasional chirp of the siren when things got tight. We had our own high-speed personal escort through Tijuana, and it was nothing short of insane! Later that day at Papas & Beer, Resendez introduced me to his primary sponsor, Robert Vetchtein, of Shark Squad Motorcycle Attorneys. Low and behold, it was the other guy from the escort.
Lunch on Friday at Papas & Beer is included with your $50.00 registration fee. Participants also receive front-of-line entry all weekend to Papas & Beer, discounted beer, a ride patch, raffle tickets and more. One of the cool things about Mexico is that the party rages on into the early morning hours. And although most Americans are afraid to cross the border, I always feel safe, especially during this event. “They want us to have a great time,” says Resendez. “We aren’t looking over our shoulder, minding our P’s and Q’s. They make us feel very relaxed, let us do what we want, and treat us like royalty. We bring a lot to the city, and they really appreciate what we’ve done and continue to do.”
Saturday is when the magic happens. The group assembles once more for yet another police escort through town to City Hall, where thousands of eager children await. It’s one big party, with bounce houses, pony rides, face painting, clowns, and as she’s done for the last 14 years, Irma Carrillo provides food for all the children from her own pocket. You can feel the electricity in the air as hundreds of motorcycles rumble over the bridge to the event. Everyone then forms bucket lines to unload the massive trailers and distribute thousands of toys to the children.
RD4C’s Melissa Victoria conducts the team like a symphony. I’m always amazed at the quantity and quality of the toys. Backpacks, soccer balls, dolls and even dozens of bicycles are given out to these kids. No child leaves empty handed. Words can’t describe the emotions felt when seeing those children receive their gifts.
After the toy distribution, the party kicks into high gear back at Papas. Another year down for the hard working RD4C staff, and it’s their turn to have some relaxation and well-deserved fun after working hard all year. RD4C’s Pompeyo Gutierrez (AKA Popeye) took the stage. “Popeye’s our jester, the life of the party,” says Resendez. “Every year he comes up with something new, and he never tells us what he’s going to do. One year he came out in a bikini and wig and joined in on the wet t-shirt competition. I thought, man that’s an ugly girl before he turned around; I nearly died laughing. Another year he wore a full panda suit and started grinding on the girls.” This year, he dressed as a ’70s kid with cutoff shorts and an afro wig, and along with a DJ took the crowd through a chronological musical journey. Then the girls took the stage for the wet t-shirt contest, the winner taking home $800.
I asked Resendez, after the event, how it feels to see everything come together. “It makes it all worth it,” he told me, “because my wife and I are stressed out for weeks with all the stuff we do behind the scenes to prepare for this event. We both have 8-to-5 jobs that are very demanding. It’s always a challenge for us to do this, and other events throughout the year for our fundraisers. We’re lucky that we have a great Rolling Deep 4 Charities staff and family that helps reduce some of the burden to do what we must do. It makes it all worth it. We work so hard and it’s very gratifying emotionally.”
Well put, and well done.
RD4C’s next event, Hog Fest, will be held in La Puente on October 13th. Get your tickets early at RD4C.net, as this event always sells out.