PATEROS — The dark clouds looked threatening enough, but the roar of thunder that rolled up from Wenatchee to Oroville on Saturday didn’t come from the sky.
It came from the 180 motorcycles stretching out for more than a mile as they rode 150 miles north for the 11th Annual Run for the Border charity ride.
And like thunder, these bikes could be heard from afar before their bright headlights crested the hill on Highway 97 just south of Pateros. The noise and lights got louder as they approached, and it took a full five minutes for all to pass by.
“To see all these bikes coming up over the hill and then down into town — it’s pretty cool,” said Jim Scaroni, an event organizer who was waiting in Pateros for the group to arrive and make its one-and-only pit stop along the way. “It’s a great opportunity to support the community. Hopefully, it gives bike riders a good name.”
Organized by the Columbia River Harley Owners Group out of Wenatchee, the ride has raised a total of more than $180,000 over the past 10 years for a variety of causes.
Always held on Armed Forces Day, it often supports veterans causes. The first year, it raised over $14,000 for retired Chelan County Sheriff Mike Brickert, who was paralyzed in an accident while serving overseas.
In 2005, they raised more than $32,000 for Michael Buyas, a Chelan sergeant who lost his legs to an IED (improvised explosive device) in Iraq. Other years, it started a scholarship fund in the name of Capt. Jaime Campbell, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq, and gave money to Support Our Soldiers, and later Vets Helping Vets.
“It kind of started out to help some of the service people,” said Gordy Heaney, Run for the Border’s committee chairman. “But it’s for anybody that needs help.”
In more recent years, the group raised funds for kids in need, for residents with medical needs, for the local food bank and for Boy Scouts.
This year, proceeds will go to two Wenatchee nonprofit groups: Solomon’s Porch, which provides services for homeless teens, and Lighthouse Christian Ministries, which offers food and housing to the poor and homeless.
Funds hadn’t been tallied, but thousands of dollars were expected from entry fees and sale of raffle tickets for a gift basket with over $4,000 in prizes donated by local businesses.
The ride this year was their first under new sponsorship. After the Harley dealer in Wenatchee closed last summer, they convinced Owen’s Harley-Davidson in Yakima to sponsor their group.
At the stop in Pateros, bikers gassed up, stopped in at local businesses for refreshments, and walked up and down Pateros’ main street admiring other bikes and visiting with their riders.
In a bright orange vest over his black leather, Grant Oberg was serving as one of several road captains this year. His job was to keep the group from breaking formation. “This is my bride of 52 years, and we still ride together,” he said proudly, introducing his wife, Karen, as she came out of the store and handed him a cold drink.
Ron Hall, an engineering technician for the city of Wenatchee, was participating in his first Run to the Border. He said he’s owned a bike since 2009, but just joined the Harley Owners Group less than a year ago. Already, he was volunteering as the group’s member officer. On Saturday, he waited in Pateros to register motorcycle riders who live north of Wenatchee and wanted to join the group for its northern leg. “We do a lot of charity events. That’s primarily what we do,” Hall said.
The threatening weather did seem to keep some riders away. Usually, somewhere between 200 and 300 bikes come, and anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 is raised.
But they’ve seen worse, Scaroni said. “The worst was the first one,” he said. “There wasn’t a snow flurry, but it was close to it,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of really hot days, and a couple of really cold days. This one’s actually a pretty nice day.”
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512