Riders for Health
I’ve been speaking to some of you lately about my recent involvement with an organization called Riders for Health, and if I’ve not shared this link with you already, I invite you to check out this short video which explains better than I what Riders does that is so important.
Though I had heard about Riders before last summer, it wasn’t until I attended the 2008 Day of Champions event at Donington Park that I really started paying attention. My good friend Mark and I attended that Thursday before the British GP and got to wander around the paddock a bit before James Toseland’s band, Crash, played to the crowd assembled to support Riders For Health.
Toseland is one of many in the Grand Prix paddock who support Riders for Health, which has become the official charity of the FIM, the organization which oversees international motorcycle racing. The main event at the Day of Champions is the charity auction to raise money to support Riders. Here you can bid on one of a kind items such as a helmet or gloves worn and then signed by Valentino Rossi or Casey Stoner. The Grand Prix riders and teams offer a fantastic level of support for this organization.
But perhaps no motorcycle racer has had a greater influence on Riders For Health than Randy Mamola, who co-founded the organization with Andrea and Barry Coleman. You can read the story here. Randy continues to support Riders in ways that only he can, which to a large extent means leveraging his insider access to the MotoGP paddock and its personnel. It’s a bit hard to imagine just what Riders would be without Randy’s support and continued participation.
Some months ago, Bill Collins contacted me about donating a photograph he’d purchased from me to the Day of Stars, Laguna Seca’s version of Donington’s Day of Champions. I thanked Bill for the gesture, and asked him to keep his photograph and allow me to donate one in its place. In the mean time, I was speaking to another client about Riders as I helped her prepare for her Turn 5 hospitality chalet. She generously agreed to donate two tickets to her event (which will be auctioned at the upcoming Day of Stars).
When I was in Qatar, I saw Randy in the paddock and approached to ask how best to proceed concerning the items we had to contribute. I was pretty sure Riders would want to offer the PSD tickets, but I had no idea if they would want a photograph from me. Randy put me in touch with Andrea Coleman, and eventually I was pleased to meet in person with Adam Silver, who heads up the local Riders chapter. Adam works in San Francisco for a hi-tech company and is also an avid motorcyclist. He brings a fantastic generosity and enthusiasm to the unique position he’s in to help Riders For Health.
It was through Adam that I got the opportunity to participate in my own small way with the most recent Riders benefit event, which took place in Redwood City at the MDK Motorsports store.
MDK has a large showroom with loads of bikes of all kinds and tons of clothing and accessories, and generously devoted several sections of their facility to the event.
In addition to a raffle with two huge collections of bike gear, one for off-roading and the other for street riding, there was a silent auction of apparel, gear, and books, with some of the items signed by notables like Nicky Hayden.
As the live auction started, Randy took the mic to introduce himself and talk for a few minutes about why we were all there. As he spoke about Riders, its work and how he’d gotten involved, his commitment to this cause and how deeply he cares about Riders for Health were obvious. He’s a great spokesman, in addition to being someone who provides unique and remarkable items for fundraising efforts.
Many of the items up for auction were brought to the event from the recent Assen round, and Randy usually had an amusing story to go along with whatever was being offered to the crowd.
Other items had more humble origins. Here is my photo of Nicky Hayden at Losail on the block. Thanks to everyone who bid on it!
Here Adam shows a Flip Video Mino HD that had been imprinted with a photo of and signed by Randy. That was a one of a kind item!
Volunteer auctioneer Joaquin Aranda of Tucker Rocky present a drawing by Alex Wakefield of Randy’s famous Le Mans victory and his salute to the crowd.
Sixteen-year-old racer Elena Myers looks on as the auction progresses. She is so fast on her 125cc machine that there’s no telling what the future holds for her.
Randy’s son Dakota had just gotten off the plane from Europe to attend the event and sign some autographs and prizes. Congratulations to Dakota on his recent first podium in the Spanish 125cc series!
One of the last items of the auction was a genuine Fiat Yamaha team shirt, signed by Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. Ooo, would a certain photographer liked to have won that–especially after Randy’s story of what he’d gone through to make this item happen, which included waiting for over an hour for Vale with finish his foosball game and hoping the Doctor would win and be in a mood to sign a shirt!
In the end, Randy’s sister Sharon posted on her Facebook page that while she was disappointed by the turnout, the event still managed to raise over $5,000, for which she was VERY grateful to everyone who came. All of the proceeds go directly to Riders for Health. That’s a lot of spark plugs!
No doubt the HEAT played a big part in the smaller than expected crowd, and while it seemed at first that we wouldn’t do very well, those who did attend were in the mood to help Riders by going deep into their wallets. For my own small part, I, too, would like to thank everyone who braved the temperature to take part in the raffle, silent auction and live auction. Special thanks to that fellow with the excellent taste who bought my Hayden photo!
One of the moments I found most interesting on Saturday was when Randy spoke about Riders and the role motorcycles play in its success. As a racer and someone who has ridden and enjoyed motorcycles most of his life, as well as having made a successful career from racing them, Randy appreciated how vital they are in areas away from racing, where there is simply no other efficient way to do something as important as distributing healthcare.
It’s my perception that here in the US (and certainly in my household!) there’s a bias against motorcycles in general, when it is really what people do with motorcycles that matters, for good or for bad. You needn’t be a fan of motorcycles, or even to like them in the first place, to see the value of what Riders for Health does with these machines. You just need to like the idea of having more healthy people in the world, the idea of people in danger of catching otherwise obsolete diseases getting the medicine they need. Riders for Health has people doing the hard part, going to Africa and training the locals, bringing supplies, managing the work itself. And every contribution they get means they can do a little bit more.
So if you didn’t come to bid on the Rossi-Lorenzo shirt, please at least watch the video and send the link on to someone else who might be willing to help.
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Thanks for reading!