Today, there are biker clubs that span every area of the country, every type of motorcycle, and nearly every race, color or creed. And while many of the public associate motorcycle clubs with more of the outlaw motorcycle gangs that exist, many biker clubs are making sure that their sense of honor and responsibility to the community gets in the limelight. In many cases, being part of a motorcycle club or a biker club isn’t just about being true to yourself and loyal to your friends. It’s also about helping out the community, and taking care of the less fortunate.
Bikers clubs are not only known for wearing patches and leather, but also for the various charities that they support. There are many out there, and many of them involve raising awareness and money by doing something that biker’s already love to do—riding their motorcycle.
For example, the charity known as Rolling Thunder was started by a group of Vietnam War veterans in 1987 and was incorporated in 1995. It is a non-profit organization with over 90 chapters worldwide. The membership is varied, containing men, and women, veterans and non-veterans alike. However, the driving force behind their commitment is the same. The goal of this group is to bring full accountability for the various Prisoners of War and Missing in Action that exist in the world today.
Their aim is to remind the government and the people in their countries that there are still some out there who fought, and who are fighting for the ideals that their country believes in.
Like many motorcycles clubs and organizations, Rolling Thunder made itself known soon after the idea was created. Born out of the desire to bring accountability and exposure to those still dealing with the POW/MIA crisis, a ride on Washington D.C. was organized for Memorial Day Weekend in 1988. Members of Rolling Thunder reached out to their friends and families, other veterans, and veteran’s advocates to form a march and demonstration on the nation capital. However, this demonstration would be conducted in a way that only bikers could achieve. Their arrival wouldn’t be marked by the shouts of slogans or singing of political anthems, but rather by the roar of motorcycle engines.
Not surprisingly, word spread quickly, and by the time that Memorial Day 1988 came, nearly 2,500 motorcycles from all over the nation came to Washington D.C. From those small, but significant beginnings, Rolling Thunder has helped to raise awareness of the plight of POWs and MIAs with their annual Freedom Ride or Ride to the Wall, which is a ride from Capitol Hill to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. From that first ride in 1988, those 2,500 souls have grown into a number reaching 900,000.
Another charity that has grown in popularity among motorcycle groups is the March of Dimes. This well-known charity has strived for decades to reduce the number of premature babies that are born into the world. Premature birth often leads to significant health problems, disability, and sometimes even death of the babies involved. Therefore the aim of the charity is to make sure that all babies, everywhere is carried to a full and healthy term.
Bikers for Babies is the motorcycle answer to the call of the March of Dimes to raise awareness to the problem of premature birth. On a yearly basis, nearly 35,000 bikers will participate in a ride across the country to raise money and awareness for the March of Dimes cause. It is a gathering of many different individuals, and many gladly pay the entrance fee for the event, and collect donations from family and friends for the event. For many bikers, a charity event like this is considered an all-around win. Not only do they get to ride their motorcycle on some of the most scenic roads, but they also raise money and awareness for an extremely worthy cause.
There are a number of other charities that have been adopted by various motorcycle or biker clubs over the years. Some focus on taking care of the children of fellow bikers who have died, some focus on the rehabilitation of veterans, and others focus on making sure that kids have the best of opportunities in their lives. In almost all cases, however, biker charities have a number of common characteristics. The first is that the charities involved enjoy a significant boost in public awareness and financial resources. The second is that the bikers often choose to help by doing what they do best – riding their motorcycle.