Among the booths at the NYC Int. MC Show were several with humanitarian goals.
Now if you've never known personally a stereotypical "Outlaw" biker, or any motorcyclists for that matter, this might surprise you. On the other hand, perhaps you've seen an annual parade of leather, chrome, tattoos, and baby dolls, otherwise known as a toy-ride and wondered at the surreality of the vision. Having spent alot of time around grizzled Vietnam era vets who looked like Charles Manson on steroids in my youth, such images cause the Dragon no cognitive dissonance. I'll share a secret known only to the initiated, a lot of those intimidating blokes with frightening monikers such as Snake and Blade, are just big teddy bears. Sure you don't want to cross them, by why would you? Most of these guys have hearts bigger than a 100 cubic inch V-twin.
One of the most crowded booths at the NYC show was manned by Dee Snider, front man for the metal group, Twisted Sister. I have to admit on my first pass, I was a little star-struck and didn't notice what the booth was for, which was Dee Snider's Bikers for Babies, an annual fundraising ride for the March of Dimes. You can find a video about the ride here. It's really touching stuff.
We discovered another worthy cause when Jes was drawn into the Women in Motorcycling booth. This group told us about the Pony Express Riders, who organize annual rides to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Check 'em out, cool ladies doing good things, and of course the fellas are welcome, too.
You might be noticing a trend, in that these biker's charities tend to use rides as their fund raisers. Heck, why just talk the talk and throw some money at an issue, when you can get a group a together and ride. Nothing captures folks attention like a large group of bikers, and you were gonna be riding anyway, right?
The last ride-for-a-cause we were exposed to at the show, and the one I would most like participate in (though I'm not sure about doing it on a 200cc two-stroke) is the MLK Memorial Million Motorcyclists Motorcade March on Washington. There is a $100 million goal to build a Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C., to date $84 million has been raised, ten years after the beginning of fund-raising. This is a slightly more political cause than the others, but it is one I believe is more relevant than ever. The last two presidential elections were marked by what can most optimistically be called irregularities at polling places, and these irregularities were most deeply displayed in African-American neighborhoods. Despite how you feel about the outcome of those elections, you should be enraged not just that a community whose political enfranchisement came at the cost of their blood, and the blood of concerned others, is having their democratic voice slowly and insidiously silenced. No, you should be most enraged, positively livid, that so little has been said about this smothering of liberty.
Stepping down off the soap box now.