It's a first-time event, but organizers of the RUN -- Rally Up North -- a motorcycle ride for charity, are thinking big.
"We want to become the No. 1 local sponsor for Camp Confidence," said Jim Christensen, of Kurilla Real Estate in Nisswa.
The Jaycees Ice Fishing Contest raised $144,000 this year. The Fishing and Golf classics brought in just under $80,000.
"It doesn't matter how much we get the first time," Christensen said. "Our goal is $20,000. But this won't be a one-time thing. We'll stick with it until it's in the back of everyone's mind."
Six years ago, Christensen approached the staff at Camp Confidence with plans for staging a motorcycle rally as a fund-raiser. The event needed to be as unique to Brainerd as an ice fishing contest and a motorcycle rally seemed to fit.
"Along with golf, fishing and boating a lot of people around here enjoy riding motorcycles," Christensen said.
Camp Confidence executive director Jeff Olson said he's excited about the rally's possibilities.
"It's something new and creative," Olson said. "It will bring a positive image to people who ride motorcycles. For us, in a year when finances are so tough, we'll have to raise another $450,000 to cover our costs."
The rally's organizing committee includes Jesse Fossum, owner of American Hardcore Custom; Bart Harmer, of Tanner Honda; Joe Egan, owner of Egan Companies in the Twin Cities; and staff at BIR and Camp Confidence.
The committee is paying startup expenses. Fifteen-thousand fliers have been printed and distributed throughout a five-state region. A Web site has been established (www.rallyupnorth.com).
"We're all business people who like to ride motorcycles," Harmer said. "We make money off this area so it's only right to give something back."
Anybody with a street legal motorcycle may participate. Registration is from 10 a.m. to noon July 26 at BIR. Look for signs saying "The RUN." Riders must be registered to participate and will be given a band to wear on their arm during the ride. Each rider will pay $20, $30 for doubles to ride the 50-mile circuit.
At noon, the rally leaves BIR and proceeds south on Highway 371 to Gull Dam Road, then west to Camp Confidence, where riders will be welcomed by campers and staff.
"Our campers are all about sensory perception," Olson said. "Can you imagine 100 Harleys riding into camp? We're really excited about it."
Travel speed over the entire route will be 30-40 mph for safety reasons and to assure that all riders remain in a group. Camp Confidence will provide an escort truck. People are welcome to park along the route and watch the rally.
"We expect there will be a lot of people along the roads and in bars and restaurants watching the parade go by," Fossum said. "It will be a slow-moving motorcycle show."
Upon returning to BIR, riders will loop the track and head for The Old Waterfall, where they'll be treated to a free pig roast. The restaurant is donating a portion of its income for the day to the event.
Organizers are expecting the RUN to be so much fun that an anticipated first-time participation of 1,000 will balloon to 30,000 or more in the future. The commitment from area bikers has been solid, Harmer said.
"Most people don't know this," he said, "but this is how Daytona Bike Week and Sturgis both started, as small rallies for charity that turned into big events. We want a big summer event up here for motorcycles."
All proceeds go to Camp Confidence and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
To pre-register, or for more information, call BIR at (866) 444-4455, Camp Confidence at 828-2344 or Jim Christensen at (800) 939-2147. Or log onto the official Web site.
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