The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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July 29, 2012

Motorcyclists brave heat for annual MDA fundraiser

JOPLIN, Mo. — Ed Ledwich made the trip to Joplin for one purpose: to help find a cure for muscular dystrophy.

“The Harley community in general always likes helping kids,” said Ledwich, of Wichita, Kan. “Hopefully (we can) raise enough funds to enable them to get the research done to put muscular dystrophy to bed.”

Hundreds of Harley-Davidsons (and their riders) were in Joplin over the weekend for Cycle Connection’s 27th annual Ride for Life, part of a national fundraiser to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

“It’s a necessity,” Lacey Goins, executive director of the association’s local chapter, said of the event. “It’s one of our biggest fundraisers of the year.”

The event kicked off Saturday night with a block party on Main Street that drew an estimated 1,000 visitors, said Nancy Hutson, co-owner of Cycle Connection. Bikers gathered Sunday morning for the ride from Joplin to Twin Bridges State Park in Northeast Oklahoma, accompanied by officers from the Joplin Police Department, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Hutson said more than 250 riders were registered, but she was unsure how many actually participated given that the forecast called for high temperatures in excess of 100 degrees.

“The hard thing about being on a bike is you feel cooler than it actually is, so you can overheat,” she said.

But many riders didn’t seem fazed. Ledwich said he started upping his water intake several days ago to ensure that he would be properly hydrated.

“If you’re a smart rider, you prepare well in advance,” he said. “When you’re riding a bike in this kind of heat, you have to know to take breaks. Staying hydrated is the key — that, and sunblock.”

Cindy Hall, of Joplin, also said she wasn’t worried about the heat. Instead, she was looking forward to participating in her first MDA Ride for Life.

“To me, it’s the excitement, meeting new people, and it’s for a good cause,” she said. “We’re all doing it for the same thing.”

Terry Bates, also of Joplin, said this year would be perhaps the 15th year he has done the Ride for Life.

“All this, everything you see around you,” he said, gesturing to the sea of motorcycles parked around him in the Cycle Connection lot, “everybody’s getting together for a very good cause. It’s just a lot of fun.”

$2 million

Totals for this year’s Joplin Ride for Life were not available Sunday. About $2 million has been raised through the event over the past 27 years, said Nancy Hutson, co-owner of Cycle Connection.

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