Hamsters USA is a phenomenal group of philanthropic motorcycle enthusiasts who have shown their generosity time after time for kids with special needs. Children’s Care has enjoyed the privilege of being affiliated with this international group for the past four years, and their fundraising has provided significant support to our facility in Rapid City.
Raising Some Serious Money
Last year the Hamsters helped raise an incredible $185,000 for Children’s Care at their annual banquet during the Sturgis Rally, but 2009 was the year to outshine them all, raising $291,000! The Hamsters USA organization helps the kids served by Children’s Care of Rapid City as a way to give back to the Black Hills area, which many members call their second home, says Hamsters USA spokesman and Children’s Care Foundation board member Grady Pfeiffer of Escondido, CA.
Their fundraising was kicked off this year with an Arlen Ness Speed Liner motorcycle, belonging to Hamster Craig Betz of California, who died of cancer last fall. His sister Cecily donated his motorcycle for a very successful raffle. Word spread throughout the motorcycling world in the effort. The winner’s name, Kurt Rumens, was drawn at the August 4th banquet, and the Seattle man took a most unexpected course of action. Kurt gave the bike back, and held his own auction with the crowd of Hamsters - raising an additional $27,500 for Children’s Care!
A silent auction with over 200 items was also held with members donating and bidding on the items, many of which were emblazoned with the Hamsters USA logo. We thank Hamsters USA member Harlan Schillinger of Denver, CO, for organizing regional captains to solicit items for the auction. Schillinger is also a board member for the Children’s Care Foundation.
Chrome Heart Award
Another highpoint was the special recognition of Hamsters USA member Larry Page of Richmond, Virginia, with the Children’s Care Chrome Heart Award, which recognizes philanthropy and civic-mindedness of an individual in the motorcycle world. We thank Larry for his generous, no-strings-attached support of our children.
There was sadness at the gathering, too. Hamsters USA member Bruce Rossmeyer of Florida had been killed in an accident on his way to the rally just days before. Also missing was Bob Illingworth of Minneapolis, who helped found the relationship between Children’s Care and the Hamsters USA organization. Bob died of cancer in March. Other Hamster supporters who had been lost in the last year were Jack Gagen of Hawaii, who had ridden his custom Harley to baseball stadiums across the country in 2006 raising money for Children’ Care, and Richard “Doc” Harrison of Oklahoma City, who died in June and had asked that memorials be sent to Children’s Care.
Another special Hamster who assisted Children’s Care that week was former Space Shuttle Astronaut Curt Brown. Curt visited our facilities in Rapid City as well as Sioux Falls. Click here to learn more.
Needless to say we are eternally grateful for all of the Hamsters USA members and to everyone who participated in fundraising for Children’s Care. Although the economy has forced us all to tighten our belts a little, the Hamsters love of children overcame that reality on that amazing rally evening. Thank you, Hamsters USA. (Photos courtesy of Gene Slater)