Hundreds roll out for charity bike ride

Ronna LawlessStaff Writer
Hundreds roll out for charity bike ride

Hundreds of people turned out at Crossroads Tavern in Kelley on Sunday, as the charitable organization Angels for Sam held its 10th annual fundraiser.

“We had 300 motorcycles and 250 people riding on five buses,” said Linda Frazier, one of the founders of Angels for Sam. “A lot of our angels don’t ride motorcycles.”

Angels for Sam is a nonprofit organization that raises money for families with medical expenses. “We put on multiple fundraisers during the year and donate the money raised to a family needing assistance,” Frazier said. “We pick different families to help each time.”

Frazier and her two sisters started Angels for Sam when their niece — their brother’s daughter — was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007. Samantha Mills was 17 then. Sam underwent two and a half years of treatment, and now, 10 years later, “she’s cancer free,” Frazier said.

But even after their niece was better, Frazier and her sisters knew firsthand how the expenses mount up when a loved one is ill. Families face many expenses that are not covered by medical insurance: co-pays for prescriptions and office visits, time away from work, travel expenses. Even though Sam was better, Angels for Sam continues the tradition of fundraising for other families facing cancer.

“We discovered there are so many other families that need help,” Frazier said. “And we’ve decided to continue to pay it forward.”

There are two families that are being helped by Sunday’s fundraiser. Eighteen-year-old Jesse Wicker has suffered from cystic fibrosis for most of his life and has just 40 percent of his lung function. “Jesse goes to Iowa City for treatment. His dad is a single dad with two boys,” Frazier said. Jesse’s dad is a union electrical worker in Des Moines, who works long days and then drives to Iowa City for Jesse’s treatment and drives home again. “That’s a lot of commitment and a lot of travel expenses,” Frazier said.

Angels for Sam is also helping the family of Evie Mueller, a 2-year-old, who was recently diagnosed with a tumor on her liver. “The tumor is in 80 percent of her liver, so it’s inoperable,” Frazier said. “They are doing rounds of chemo to shrink it, and she’s been placed on the transplant list. The family will probably be in Omaha for months during this process.”

But Frazier points out that Angels for Sam is about more than just the money. “The money is a Band-Aid,” she said. “We offer a lot of love and support, and the families can feel that. When hundreds of people turn out for a bike ride, that means a lot to the families.”

Sunday’s bike ride went from the Iowa Beef Steakhouse in Des Moines to Crossroads Tavern in Kelley, then to Elkhart, where bikers visited Elkhart Pub and Kippy’s. The ride ended at the Norwood Inn on the east side of Des Moines. “We always end up at the Norwood Inn,” Frazier said. “They’ve always been very supportive of us.”

This was the first year the bike ride included a stop in Kelley. “This is the second year Crossroads has invited us. Last year, we already had our route planned, but this year we thought, ‘Yes! Let’s go north!’” Frazier said. “And we’re definitely glad we made it. We loved Crossroads’ layout and their facility and their staff.”

Bike Night

Matt Merical, the general manager of Zylstra Harley-Davidson in Ames, agrees that Crossroads Tavern is a great place for a bike event. Zylstra has a bike night planned at Crossroads every month through September. The next one is scheduled for Thursday, June 23, from 5-9 p.m.

“This is a weekly event that goes to various places, including Kelley, Marshalltown, the Tip Top in Ames, Woodward and Dayton,” Merical said.

Since Zylstra Harley-Davidson specializes in custom bikes, they bring along four or five of them for people to see during bike night. The dealership’s custom motorcycles are one of the secrets of its success.

“We like to find ways to give customers what they want,” Merical said. “We’re Iowa’s fastest-growing dealership, and we’re number one in customer service in our market. We’re a smaller dealership, so we work even harder to keep our customers happy.”

One way of keeping them happy is by hosting bike night at places like Crossroads Tavern, he said. Hundreds of people attend the events. Along with the bike night June 23, Crossroads will also hold the event on the following Thursday evenings: July 7, Aug. 4 and Sept. 15.