Arizona - The dreams of terminally ill children in Yuma are a little easier for them to grasp today.
That's because money raised during Saturday's Red and White Support Run will help fund their last requests through the local Catch A Dream organization.
The Hells Angels gave a helping hand to this worthy cause by donating money from their motorcycle run to Catch A Dream of Yuma County. While involvement by the Hells Angels has stirred up controversy in Yuma over the past week, Marty LaBelle, operations manager for Bobby's Territorial Harley-Davidson, says the focus should be and has always been on the kids.
"The turmoil has been exceptional," he said. "I think all things aside, look at the children who will benefit. These kids will be able to do something great. They can experience some joy before they die.
"The medical bills are just killing some of their parents, so this is a way to help them afford to get some of the things that their kids want. Some people have been asking why we would take money from these guys, and I say that it is for the greater good. Despite some of the negative publicity going around, today's event has been a great success."
Between 300 and 400 bikers from various motorcycle clubs rode their hogs to Bobby's dealership to sign up for a chance to participate in the ride.
"When they sign up the bikers pay $20 and are given a shirt and a card which they can have stamped during their pit stops at several locations participating in the run throughout Yuma County," LaBelle said.
"They travel all the way out to Dome Valley before they end up at the new Mine Shaft to eat some lunch. After the event is over, the Hells Angels will give a portion of their earnings from the run to Catch A Dream."
After the run was completed, the bikers, who hailed from as far away as Nevada and California, converged on the new Mine Shaft to enjoy live entertainment, catch up with friends and maybe have an ice cold beer.
They were also eagerly anticipating the results of the drawing for a brand-new 2009 Custom Harley-Davidson Sportster, which was purchased by Brice Zeller, owner of the Mine Shaft.
Brice then donated the motorcycle to be given away to help raise additional funds for Catch A Dream.
"For the past few months, Bobby's has been selling tickets to anyone who wanted to buy them," LaBelle said. "We sold out of tickets today. All of the proceeds from these tickets will go directly to helping Catch A Dream."
Mark Zeller, brother of Brice, has a personal interest in helping Catch A Dream.
"Catch a Dream is important," he said, "because my grandson died when he was just 3 years old. He always wanted to ride a train but couldn't. This is why I want to help other kids in need."
Mark is aware of the notoriety of the Hells Angels but insists that they are of no threat.
"Today is going very good," he said Saturday. "There haven't been any problems and everyone is having a good time. Everyone is enjoying the good Yuma weather."
Brice agreed. "We do two runs a year, and we have been doing so since 2005. We have never had any problems with bikers."
LaBelle said he thinks that the Hells Angels may not be as bad as some would like to believe.
"You know, most of those guys are good guys. There are a lot of business professionals, people that are retired military and other everyday people. Because of their history, people tend to judge them prematurely."
In addition to the large crowds, Saturday's event attracted well-known celebrities.
"At least eight big clubs came today," said Brice. "Even Sonny Barger came to sign autographs and take photos with people. He's the one who founded the Oakland Chapter of the Hells Angels in the late 1940s."
The lucky winner of Saturday's motorcycle drawing was Bill Falkenberg.
Disclaimer: The opinions in this article are solely those of the writer, and may not reflect the beliefs of anyone at the Biker News Network/Outlaw Biker World.
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