• Here’s the latest from the International Federation of Motorcycling Rotarians (IFMR) fundraising ride to the RI Convention in New Orleans. Our own Charlie Foote was among the intrepid bikers who braved weather-related detours and the rigors of a lengthy ride to help raise funds for Rotary’s PolioPlus campaign. [Can you spot Charlie in the crowd? Look at 11 o’clock waaay in the back; he’s in black hat and shirt.]
By Bob Shriner
President, IFMR North American chapter
What an exciting day! We met in the parking lot of the Baton Rouge Harley dealer at 9 a.m. for coffee and fellowship. As we awaited the arrival of the Blue Knights (off-duty motorcycle policemen who provided the core of our escort), more local Rotary motorcyclist joined us for the final ride to New Orleans.
By the time the Blue Knights arrived at 9:30 we had a total of 52 motorcycles, plus several passengers, and we had them pose for a photo (above) before we left.
We were escorted by a squadron of eight Blue Knights, including police from New Orleans, Baton Rouge and cities along our route, plus numerous state trooper vehicles and local police in the cities we passed through.
Once we got on the Interstate, the Blue Knights and other police vehicles blocked every intersection as we progressed. We traveled most of the 85 miles from Baton Rouge at 70-75 mph to minimize the time we were tying up other traffic on the route. The police were traveling faster as they finished blocking one intersection then raced past us to block intersections ahead, or blocked traffic to permit us to change lanes when required en route.
It was quite an impressive performance. We all arrived safely and on time at the convention center. Here’s a photo of a line-up of some of our bikes in the convention center parking lot.
We were greeted on our arrival by a huge crowd of Rotarians and photographers along the street. After we parked our motorcycles and went inside, we were welcomed by RI President Ray Klinginsmith and Rotary Foundation Vice-Chair John Germ.
We held a brief ceremony and press conference in which I presented John Germ (shown at right, below) with a ceremonial check prepared a couple of days in advance.
I indicated that we had continued to receive donations since the ceremonial check was prepared, so that we estimate that IFMR riders have collected about $50,000 for PolioPlus. John Germ and I then were interviewed by video crews, as well as posing for this photo of me presenting John with the IFMR check.
As we finished the check presentation and the press conference, there was a big round of applause and congratulations from the crowd that had gathered around us. It was really exciting to be part of something like this, and we were all proud of having contributed.And, thanks to all of you who helped us make it happen.
I want to especially thank Mark Shirley, who orchestrated the arrangements in Baton Rouge and our police escort to New Orleans. The Blue Knights also deserve a huge “thank you” for their outstanding performance of moving us 85 miles in heavy traffic and arriving safely and exactly on time. I also want to recognize the Ride Captains who led their groups to New Orleans from various parts of the country:
• Marc Baker from Seattle, Doug Holck from Sacramento, Dave Phelps from Chicago, and Allan Leggett from Miami.
• My co-Ride Captain from Albany, Charlie Foote, who helped me keep up with 17 motorcycles in our group by the time we arrived here.
• And, PolioPlus rider Bob Mutchler in his side-care rig, who was instrumental in helping me initiate the idea for this fund-raising ride in the first place and who bike is on display in the IFMR exhibit booth at the convention.
John Germ and Rotary Foundation chief executive John Osterland also provided exceptional assistance and encouragement all along the way, as did numerous other Rotary leaders and staff members. Without the participation, encouragement, and support of all these key people this project would not have been possible. It has been a huge team effort we can all be very proud of.
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