More than two dozen motorcycles pulled out of the parking lot to the east of the Madison Fire Department on Saturday noon when the Lake Chapter of ABATE of South Dakota took to the road for the annual 9/11 Memorial Ride.
With this ride, the ABATE chapter was raising money for the Madison Volunteer Fire Department.
“When you see the big packs, it’s mostly fund-raising,” said Dave Hare. The Lake County buildings and grounds superintendent was nearly unrecognizable in biker gear, which is a different look than the one he dons for work.
Neither he nor the others at the table enjoying lunch served by the fire department knew how long they’ve been doing the 9/11 Memorial Ride. Over the years, they’ve provided support for several organizations, including the American Red Cross and Lake County Search & Rescue before it was dissolved.
On Saturday, as participants registered, organizers had no idea how much money was being raised at the event. In June, the ABATE chapter did a ride to raise money for the Midwest Honor Flight, a non-profit organization in northwest Iowa, South Dakota and southwest Minnesota that provides veterans with all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C., to see the war memorials there.
“We raised enough to send one veteran,” Hare said.
Each year, the chapter schedules three or four runs, according to Dan Nugent, a heating contractor from Chester.
“Everyone takes a turn at organizing a run,” he said.
On weekends when they aren’t participating in a local run, members will often be involved in other runs, helping other organizations raise money.
On the weekend prior to the 9/11 Memorial Ride, many participated in a ride in Brookings which attracted 792 riders from around the region.
They invest funds in doing this for a couple of reasons.
“The joy of motorcycle riding and benefiting other organizations,” said Sara Hare, director of budget and grants at Dakota State University and Dave’s wife.
Most of the riders will have Harley Davidsons, but not all. All are welcome, according to Sara Hare.
“It’s not what you ride, it’s that you ride,” Nugent said.
The 161-mile ride on Saturday would take bikers through Trent, Crooks, Emery and Canova before taking them back to the Madison VFW by 5 or 5:30 p.m. Along the way, they would stop, get off their bikes and visit.
“Some people will take the opportunity to eat,” Dave Hare said.
The Lake Chapter of ABATE of South Dakota was organized in 1987, according to Jim Mannie, formerly of Madison.
In addition to promoting a better public image of motorcyclists and legislative advocacy, ABATE of South Dakota works to prevent accidents through ride awareness and education.
“It’s a lot better if someone teaches you how to ride than if just get on a motorcycle and ride,” Mannie said.
As one of the organizers for Saturday’s ride, he said they hoped to raise around $1,000.