WINTERSVILLE - Area motorcycle riders will make a tradition happen again Sunday with the 13th-annual Neidengard's Harley-Davidson Pledge Ride for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
More than 700 motorcycles and 1,000 riders are expected to meet at the dealership at 284 Canton Road Sunday morning for the ride to raise money to help the victims of neuromuscular diseases. This year's pledge ride and dice run is dedicated to the memory of Chris Givens.
The event, sponsored by Neidengard's, the Ohio Valley Harley Owners Group with sponsorships from Piergallini's and the Wintersville Fire and Rescue, Pepsi, Lamar Outdoor and WEGW-FM, will begin with registration starting at 10 a.m. The first bike out will be at noon with the last bike out at 1 p.m. The last rider in from the ride is scheduled for 4 p.m., with the post-run festivities to take place at St. Florian Hall on Luray Drive with a dinner and entertainment.
READY TO RIDE — The annual Neidengard Harley-Davidson Pledge Ride and Dice Run for the Muscular Dystrophy Association will be held Sunday. Among those planning the event and raising funds are, seated on the motorcycle, Kristeen and Frank Aleksiejczyk; and standing, from left, John and Deanna Petrella, Larry “Spike” Sterling, Chris Powers, Lori Kujawa and Neidengard’s owners John and Kim Neidengard.
Prizes will be awarded for the top three dice rolls.
Neidengard's and the Ohio Valley H.O.G. chapter have raised $293,147.40 total during the previous dozen runs.
Kim Neidengard said the amount raised makes Neidengard's the leader in Ohio in raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Harley-Davidson Motor Co. is a major national fundraiser for the annual Labor Day weekend Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, with dealers and riders joining for events across the nation to raise money each year.
-- WHAT: Neidengard's Harley-Davidson's annual pledge ride for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
-- WHERE: Neidengard's Harley-Davidson, 284 Canton Road, Wintersville.
-- WHEN: Registration begins at 10 a.m. Sunday with the first bike off at noon. The event wraps up with dinner at St. Florian Hall after the ride.
-- INFO: Call Neidengard's at (740) 266-6188
-- ALL-HARLEY SHOW: The All-Harley-Davidson Bike Show and Neidengard's Summer Open House will take place throughout the day Saturday with discounts in the shop and awards for show entries.
"The ride has become such a popular event that this year, we sold out of our drawing tickets a month and a half ahead of time," she said. The drawing this year includes a chance at a 2008 Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide Custom motorcycle.
Area Harley riders say it's not just about the ride.
Some of the Ohio Valley H.O.G. chapter's top fundraisers say it's about friendship and the chance to help others.
John and Deanna Petrella of Wintersville have been raising money and riding for all 12 previous years of the Neidengard's ride.
"It's about the friends and the new ones we will meet," Deanna said. "You meet people from every different walk of life. We have attorneys and doctors and business people. Harleys don't just have that old 'bad' image. It's a different group that rides."
"They're the biggest-hearted bunch of people when it comes to giving," John added. "They're appreciative of what they have and they want to give back. They're warm-hearted people. It's kind of like a fraternity. They step up and help you."
The Petrellas were the 2007 winners of the Hogs on the High Seas cruise drawing. Every $100 in pledges raised gets an entry into the drawing for the cruise, which includes a trip for two on the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas ship and airfare to Florida. Cash prices are given to the top five in donations collected.
Riders may still pick up entry and pledge forms at Neidengard's this week.
In addition, riders may pledge a minimum of $30 for a ride, or $25 for a rider and $15 for a passenger.
The first 500 riders registered will receive an event pin, a door prize ticket and dinner.
Frank Aleksiejczyk, a Neidengard's salesman, said, "We're so fortunate to be blessed with healthy children. Chris Givens will be in our mind this year. I challenge everyone reading this to pledge $100. That's getting 10 people to pledge $10. Bring it here this weekend. Do it because you can."
Sales Manager Lori Kujawa of Dillonvale has been with Neidengard's for 15 years. She said the day can be hectic around the shop, but it's worth it.
"It's all about the camaraderie of our extended family," she said. "The more people we get in here, the happier we are. It's all for a great cause. I look forward every year to having a great day."
Chris Powers of Toronto has been participating in the ride for 10 years. She said her fellow employees from Trinity Health System are supportive and said the hospital's ECHO Fund raises money.
"We have some doctors who ride and a couple of nurses," she said. "It's always a weekend I make sure I'm not on call for the hospital."
Larry "Spike" Sterling of Wintersville, owner of Sterling's Auto Body, recently returned from a Hogs on the High Seas cruise for people on kidney dialysis.
"For some of them, it's the only vacation they ever get to go on," he said. "We do this for the kids. When you see them, you realize they're not able to do what we do, and they appreciate us."
In the event of rain, prizes will be awarded at Neidengard's Harley-Davidson beginning at 1 p.m.
On Saturday, Neidengard's opens its doors for its annual summer open house, held the day before the MDA ride each year. The open house will be conducted from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the All- Harley-Davidson Bike Show also taking place. All entries must be in by 11 a.m. Saturday with the show and judging between noon and 2 p.m.
Judging will take place for best shovelhead; best bagger; best V-Rod; best pre-1966 antique; best Sportster; best big-twin rubber mount; best big-twin rigid; best big-twin radical custom and best of show.
In addition, Neidengard's will offer 15 percent off all items in the 2008 Harley-Davidson accessory catalog on Saturday and Sunday, $5 off on Neidengard T-shirts on Saturday and Sunday and 20 percent off select Motorclothes on Saturday and Sunday. The sales exclude on-sale items, previously purchased, previously ordered and lay-aways.
(Giannamore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)