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Harley-Davidson’s largest fundraiser for adults and children with muscular dystrophy will be held at Seven Springs Mountain Resort next year, organizers said.
It is the first time the MDA Ride for Life , now in its 31st year, will be held in the western part of the state, said Tracy Hausknecht, event coordinator.
“We hope to fully enjoy the Laurel Highlands,” she said. “Working with Seven Springs and the (Somerset County) Chamber of Commerce, we will be finding riding routes that encompass Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, the Flight 93 Memorial, historic barns and wineries.”
The MDA Ride for Life Steering Committee approved the location after making a site visit this month, Hausknecht said. The event is scheduled for May 4-6, 2018.
“We were looking for something a little different. Seven Springs just seems like a wonderful place to ride,” she said.
Previous Ride for Life events have been held at the Reading Fairgrounds in Leesport, Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, Dorney Park in Allentown and Camelback Resort in the Pocono Mountains.
Hausknecht said the steering committee wanted to acknowledge the growing involvement and support of dealerships in the region, including Z&M Harley-Davidson in Hempfield.
“The dealerships to the west of us are such a growing population with Harley-Davidson, and Z&M is such a wonderful dealership to work with,” she said. “We wanted to make it easier for them to get to the event.”
Z&M and the Latrobe Harley Owners Group raised $ 45,622 for the 2017 Ride for Life, making them the seventh-highest fundraiser that year, Hausknecht said.
Harley-Davidson Vice President Mike Kennedy stopped at Z&M on his way from Milwaukee to the 2017 Ride for Life, which raised $ 1.2 million in donations for MDA.
“They’re trying to branch out and acquire new interest, new riders and new donors,” said Jason Rivardo, Z&M marketing manager. “There’s some new excitement out there.”
The event is sponsored by the Eastern Harley-Davidson Dealers Association and attracts more than 1,000 Harley riders each year. It also is the largest gathering of motorcycle sidecars in North America, Hausknecht said.
“We transfer our kids from their wheelchairs to the sidecars, and they lead our parade,” she said.
The 2018 parade is scheduled for May 5. As the event site, Seven Springs also will host concerts, riding exhibitions and other activities throughout the weekend.
Participating dealerships usually distribute Ride for Life pledge packets early in the year and organize “spoke rides” to the event from various locations east of the Mississippi River. Last year, the participant who traveled the farthest — 3,423 miles — came from the Thames Valley HOG in Reading, Berkshire, England.
“Most dealerships will create ride itineraries and will ride in as groups to the event. Then, once they arrive at Seven Springs, we’ll be doing different rides every day around the Laurel Highlands,” Hausknecht said.
MDA Ride for Life will make an official announcement on Sept. 10 at Z&M.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter @shuba_trib.