For 11 years, Heritage Trail H.O.G chapter #2155, along with Hamilton Harley-Davidson of Sturgis, has sponsored “Breast Cancer Benefit Poker Run” and fundraiser auction.
The Saturday of fun for bikers helps save people’s lives.
The run departs Hamilton Harley-Davidson Saturday for a ride through St Joseph County, then concludes at Sturgis Elks Lodge on M-66.
The run is not limited to those on motorcycles. Last year, some participants drove classic cars and a convoy of Jeep-drivers took part, said Tommy Hamilton at Hamilton Harley-Davidson.
Proceeds go to Women’s Preventative Health Care Day held each spring, through Sturgis Hospital. Tests include pap smear, skin cancer screening, varicose vein screening and a blood work panel.
Each year, tests have detected early-stage cancer in between four and 10 women, Hamilton said. The sooner it is found, the better the chance of survival.
A fundraising goal is between $ 8,000 and $ 10,000 each year, he said. So far, the goal has been achieved each year.
One aspect of the event includes games along the route and door prizes. Registration fee of $ 10 and proceeds from the games raised about $ 2,500 in 2016.
Much of the money comes from live- and silent-auction sales.
For several years, Ann Scott of Three Rivers, a stained-glass artist and cyclist, created motorcycle-related piece that brought in major money. This year, her artwork is a mosaic of a 1929 JD Harley-Davidson.
Scott gives generously, because, several of her close relatives and friends have faced the difficult path with cancer, she said. “They are extremely appreciative of anything we can do to ease this journey,” Scott said.
Rob LaBarge, president and CEO of Sturgis Hospital, expressed gratitude for the benefit.
“We so admire and appreciate it — as do the women whose lives and health are better because of Hamilton’s generosity,” LaBarge said.
Hamilton deflects praise to the community.
Even those who don’t take part in the ride have stopped at Hamilton Harley-Davidson to donate to the cause, Hamilton said.
Some have been grateful family members of women for whom cancer was detected in the early stages, he said.
“Every year it amazes me more and more,” Hamilton said. “It’s a great cause and it’s working — to get that kind of support and results.”