Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

3rd Annual Mike's Ride - Lee's Summit, Missouri

Written by  August 26, 2015

The 3rd Annual Mike’s Ride began on July 18 at The Bar in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, with registration and breakfast. Ride fees were $25 per rider and $10 per passenger with proceeds going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Raffle tickets were sold for a chance to win a beautiful customized 1999 Harley-Davidson Sportster. Poker run prizes were $100 for the best hand and $50 for the worst. There were also some nice raffle prizes.

The participants gathered in the parking lot for a group photo just before heading out on the route. The first part of the ride was escorted by officers from the Lee’s Summit Police Department. Leading the way was Tim Vansell, organizer of the event, followed by Rich and Dana who own The Bar. There were four stops along the way where the riders drew cards for their poker hands and socialized for an hour or so at each. First was Russo’s Pizza and Pub in Lee’s Summit followed by Valley Pub & Patio in Grain Valley, Miss Kelly Joe’s in Oak Grove, and the Ranch House in Blue Springs. There was a bit of a delay in Grain Valley to wait out a rain shower. The ride concluded back at The Bar where tasty tacos were served by Sorano’s Mexican Food. Both of the poker winners generously donated their winnings back to AFSP. Several donated items were auctioned prior to the drawing for the Sportster which was won by Susie Goodson.

A few days later, I met with Tim and his wife Johnna back at The Bar and had an informative and, at times, emotional visit.

CC: Please tell me how this ride got started.
Tim: In March of 2012 I lost my brother. Later that year, I just got with my cousin Rich and some friends, and we decided to do a memorial ride close to Mike’s July 22 birthday. The following year I got in contact with Barb Nelson at the Foundation and asked her if they would be interested in being involved in a fund raising ride.

CC: So the first one was a memorial ride and the second one became a fund raiser.
Tim: Yes, the 2013 ride was the one where we brought the Foundation on board for the first time. They had wanted to do a ride but needed bikers to work with them. This is the third year with Foundation. Every year we’ve seen tremendous increases in the amount raised.

CC: How many people registered this year?
Tim: We registered 159. There were 115 riders plus passengers.

CC: There were lots of items donated for door prizes and auction.
Tim: I don’t know who and how many. Rich handled that. The vendors who deal with The Bar donated a lot. A grill was donated. The Family Center donated a weed eater. Mike’s 71 donated a really nice travel pack for a bike.

CC: How about the raffle bike?
Tim: I found it on Crag’s List. I talked to Rich and he said he would put up the money for the bike. We got the Sportster and wanted to make sure it would be dependable for the winner, so we went to Iron Eagle. We asked them to go through the bike and make sure it was sound, but Mark, Russ, Devon and Sean kept coming up with handlebars, paint job, and lots of custom items. It told them we didn’t have the money to do all that stuff, and they said not to worry about it; they would take care of it. Justin Baldwin from Graffiti Alley did a great job with the paint. I was blown away. The bike was flat bike when we bought it. I was good with the flat black, but those boys wanted to make it special. I was just amazed. To me, those guys took the ride to another level. The raffle was key in taking us from $7,000 so to $14,000 raised. There is still money coming in, and we’ll probably end up with something like $14,500.

CC: Who were the ladies from the Foundation?
Tim: Barb Nelson and Carolyn Allen. They helped with registration, and there were a dozen or so others who volunteered to help.

CC: They had a lot of information available at their table.
Tim: We are aware that there are people who contact the Foundation as a result of the ride and get help from their programs. The Foundation gives us a number each year, and we don’t have that yet for this year, but it usually runs from five to ten people every year.

CC: So in addition to the funding provided by the ride it results directly in people being helped due to the awareness and information provided.
Tim: I field a few calls every year from people needing help. I have personally been able to direct people to some counseling they need.

CC: You can’t put a value on a life. If even one suicide is prevented as a result of the ride, it’s more than worth all of the effort.
Tim: It’s amazing how many people are affected by suicide. Almost everyone is aware of someone who has committed suicide or has been affected by it. Some of the volunteers are motivated by some connection with suicide. I lost my best friend, my brother. That’s why we do it.

CC: What’s the future for the ride?
Tim: Whatever path it takes is the path it takes. I hope it continues to grow and allow us to reach more people. It’s amazing how the biking people rally around charitable causes and step up to help. We are happy that the money we raise stays in the community to help people here.  

CC: Thanks for visiting with us and for all the work you do for such a worthwhile cause. We’ll be looking forward to next year’s ride.
Here is some information from the literature provided by AFSP:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Free, confidential, always available. Help a loved one, a friend, or yourself. Community crisis centers answer Lifeline calls. Suicide is preventable!

There are many warning signs of a potential suicide. The risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.

(1)  Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself, saying they wish they were dead or they just have to end the pain or they can’t see a way out.

(2)  Looking for a way to kill oneself. Searching online, buying a gun, or hoarding medicine.

(3)  Talking about felling hopeless, desperate, or humiliated or having no reason to live.

(4)  Talking about feeling trapped, being in unbearable pain.(5)

(5)  Talking about being a burden to others.

(6)  Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.

(7)  Acting anxious or agitated, behaving recklessly. Having anxiety or panic attacks.

(8)  Losing interest in things or losing the ability to experience pleasure.

(9)  Sleeping too little or too much.

(10)  Withdrawing from friends, family, or others or feeling isolated.

(11)  Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

(12)  Displaying extreme mood swings.

 In 2013 (most recent available statistics) 41,149 Americans took their lives. There was a suicide in the U.S. every 13.7 minutes. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention assists by educating the public about mental disorders and suicide prevention, funding scientific research, promoting policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention, providing programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk and involving them in the Foundation’s work, and offering educational programs for professionals. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide.



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Dave Baxter, a.k.a. Stripe joined our staff in December, 2003, as a photojournalist. If that road name sounds familiar, you may have seen his photos on the pages of such publications as American Iron, V Twin, VQ, In the Wind, and Easyriders. Stripe attends as many rallies, bike shows, and charity runs as he can and is a major contributor of photos and articles to our magazine. His first assignment was our January, 2004, cover photo, where he snapped the awesome photo of a 1958 Harley-Davidson Duo Glide. A rider since the age of 14, he loves to help and encourage new riders. Stripe enjoys meeting new people and looks forward to catching many of our readers in the viewfinder of his digital camera. Contact Stripe at stripe@cycleconnections.com