Annual Ride for the Heroes to raise funds for veterans causes

The event, hosted by the Rotary Club of Central Bucks, is set for June 2

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts will ride in unison for nearly two hours and 60 miles on the afternoon of Sunday, June 2. No, a massive biker gang isn’t about to wreak havoc on Bucks County. Rather, this police-escorted procession is raising money for a more-than-worthy cause — veterans.

This is the 10th annual Ride for the Heroes, which has raised more than $350,000 for veterans and their families since its inception. Hosted by the Rotary Club of Central Bucks, the event begins at the Garden of Reflection in Lower Makefield and ends with a picnic and live music at the Fraternal Order of Police Picnic Grove in Bedminster Township.

According to Kevin Kaufman, a charter member of the Rotary, Ride for the Heroes was launched 10 years ago after he and his peers discovered a shared passion for motorcycles. Out of the 25 Rotarians, nine were avid bikers. So, they decided to utilize this common interest to serve the chapter’s mission.

“One of the things the Rotary likes to do is, we raise money for our community so we can help people who need it,” Kaufman said. “This Rotary, our charter says we exist to help women, children and veterans.”

During its first year, Ride for the Heroes welcomed 100 bikers and raised $10,000, which Kaufman said wasn’t too shabby given the rainy day. The event has grown dramatically since then, currently drawing an average of 600 riders.

Ride for the Heroes follows a set route throughout the county, including a trip up New Hope’s ever-bustling Main Street, which is cleared out for the event.

“Because it’s police-escorted and we have the cooperation of several police stations and townships, you don’t stop,” Kaufman said. “You just keep moving the whole time and the procession can be over a mile long. So those people who have to wait for us to pass, I feel sorry for them, 15 to 20 minutes stuck in a car waiting for hundreds of motorcycles. But actually, people adore it more than they think it’s a nuisance.”

This sentiment is true for the locals who live directly across the street from the FOP Picnic Grove.

“What started happening the past couple of years, the residents just line the streets waiting for the motorcycles to arrive,” Kaufman said.

After the ride, event participants and the public are invited to the FOP Picnic Grove for live music by the band Bob Kadel Wears Glasses, which Kaufman is a part of, and a hearty spread of food, which usually includes several hundred donated hamburgers and sausages. In the case of rain, picnic tables are set up under a pavilion, allowing the festivities to still go on.

“Everybody who has donated can eat, drink and be merry for as long as they care to hang around and have a good time,” Kaufman said. “It’s just an all around good time. A relaxing, fun destination.”

The Rotary is aiming to raise at least $50,000. Last year, proceeds were distributed among the following beneficiaries: Operation Homefront, Gold Star Mothers, Bucks County Vet Transport, Tails of Valor, Good To Go Care Boxes, Vets for Vets, Shamrock Reins, Bucks County Tour of Honor, Meghan’s Foundation, and the Travis Manion Foundation.

In order to be considered for funding, each organization must explain its need to the Rotary and outline how it would use the money. If an organization received funding the previous year, it’s asked to detail how the donation helped.

For anyone on the fence about getting involved with Ride for the Heroes, Kaufman provided a few words of encouragement.

“Most people that go to this event come year after year because it’s so well-run, it’s such a good time. No worry, no stress,” he said. “There’s not a lot of sure things in life, but if you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, this is one event you don’t want to miss.”

Advance registration is recommended and is being offered until May 19 at 11:59 p.m. The first 100 registrants will receive a commemorative Ride for the Heroes patch. Advance registration is $30 for a single rider, $50 for double riders, $25 for picnic only, and $25 for event T-shirt. After May 19, ticket prices are $50 for a single rider, $70 for double riders, $35 for picnic only, and $30 for event T-shirt. ••

If you go…

Ride for the Heroes takes place Sunday, June 2, at the Garden of Reflection, 1950 Woodside Road, Lower Makefield Township.

Rider check-in begins at 8:30 a.m., followed by a ceremony honoring veterans from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

The ride begins at 11 a.m. and arrives at the Fraternal Order of Police Picnic Grove, 82 Scott Road, Bedminster Township, at approximately 1:30 p.m.

The picnic continues until 3 p.m. This event is rain or shine.

Visit ridefortheheroes.com for more information.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com