By Sheila R. McAfee
One of the largest charity motorcycle rides in Michigan is associated with longtime Trenton resident Kurt Sebaly, a motorcycle enthusiast since he was a teen.
The 12th annual Ride for A Reason is scheduled for June 3, beginning at Cabela’s in Dundee and ending at Biker Bob’s Harley Davidson Motown in Taylor. More than 3,000 bikers are expected to participate in the ride, which benefits Penrickton Center for Blind Children, where Sebaly is executive director.
The history of the ride is tied to the mission of Penrickton, and that is to provide free care for blind, multi-disabled children ages 1 to 12. In order to do this, the agency relies on the support of private donations. It receives no state, federal or United Way funding, said Sebaly, noting that many fundraisers are organized by groups on behalf of Penrickton.
The idea for the Ride for A Reason came about at the urging of Biker Bob’s staff and members of the Motown HOG (Harley Owners Group), who thought it would be a great fundraiser. It turns out they were right because in recent years the annual amount raised has been $80,000 for Penrickton’s general operating expenses.
Sebaly said he liked the ride idea, and as plans evolved, Cabela’s was opening its southeast Michigan store. With the support of sporting goods store, a route was designed for the 45-mile ride journey.
The police escorted ride will make its way through nine different communities, where leaders have offered their support and residents line the streets to cheer on the bikers as they pass through.
“The number of participants has been consistent from year to year, despite the weather, and we have had weather from A-Z,” Sebaly said, recalling 2010 when a successful ride took place days after Dundee had been devastated by a tornado.
This year’s goal is to raise $80,000 for the daycare and residential program, which currently has 24 children enrolled, with two more in the enrollment process, Sebaly said.
A great local vantage point to watch Ride for A Reason is on the lawn of Penrickton Center, 26530 Eureka Road, in Taylor. Once the bikes arrive at the corner of Eureka and Lange, onlookers will be treated to a bike parade lasting for 30 minutes and featuring bikes of all makes and models. Sebaly said the riders should be at Penrickton by 1:30 p.m. that afternoon.
A bike owner since he was 14, Sebaly said he even sold two to pay for college tuition. The third he kept in his apartment at Central Michigan University. He later transferred to Eastern Michigan University, where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Like so many of the people who support the non-profit agency, Sebaly became associated with Penrickton in 1979 after stopping in to learn more about the program, which has been in Taylor since 1952.
“I used to drive by all the time, and when I dropped in that day there was a need in the area of social work,” he said. “I had that in my background, so initially, I ran the education program and worked to get our kids into school. After that, I became assistant director and then executive director.”
He can’t say enough about the generosity of individuals, businesses, and service organizations who help with everything from office tasks to grounds maintenance and beautification.
“For the ride, we are able to serve 3,000 people within 45 minutes, thanks to the more than 250 volunteers who help us that day alone,” Sebaly said.
Registration continues through race day, with staging set to begin at 10 a.m. in the Cabela’s parking lot. Riders will be lined up as they arrive, Sebaly said, and set out promptly at Noon.
The fee to ride is $25 a person, and that includes a special ride pin and rocker to commemorate the event, as well as a barbeque feast at Biker Bob’s, provided by Famous Dave’s.
Non-riders can join in the festivities at Biker Bob’s for $10, which includes food, and entertainment by Eddie Cooper & the Exit Band.
During the gathering at Biker Bob’s, organizers will pull the winning ticket for a 2011 Harley Davidson Street Glide. Tickets are $10 apiece or six for $50. Tickets will be available until the time of the drawing.
For more information, call Biker Bob’s, (734) 947-4647, or Penrickton at (734) 946-7500, or visit the agency’s Website at www.penrickton.com