INDIANAPOLIS — With the roar of engines that you could hear from miles away, thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts took to the streets of Indianapolis Sunday.
But this was no ordinary Sunday afternoon drive. These bikers were riding for a reason.
“It’s life-changing,” said Bill Kingery, a ride spokesperson. “It’s quite honestly life-changing.”
For the 27th year, they were participating in the annual Riley Miracle Ride to raise money and awareness for the Riley Children’s Foundation. Since 1993, the ride has raised almost $7 million for Riley Hospital for Children.
It is considered the largest motorcycle charity ride in the Midwest.
“We're excited! We've never been before,” said Sarah Blasdell, who was there with her husband and children. Her son, Miles, has been involved with Riley since he was six months old. He was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy.
“Now we’re excited to get involved with Riley in a different way,” she said, referring to the ride.
The event also brightened the day for young patients who are still in the hospital. They got to see and hear the massive parade of motorcycles drive right past their hospital window.
“All those precious little faces are going to be pressed up against those windows ... cheering [for] those bikers,” said Kinger. “I’ll tell you what. The toughest biker in the world can't get past that spot.”
“Yeah, I tear up a little bit. it's hard,” said Jeff Melton, who has been participating in the ride for the past six years. “My grandson was in there back in 2015 and that's when I started to do this ride.”
In 2019, the ride included 3,700 riders. COVID-19 canceled the event last year, but it returned this year with some pandemic-related changes. Young patients used to be able to line the streets outside the hospital but had to stay inside this year.
Participants said they were riding for the kids, of course, but also to say "thank you" to the doctors, nurses and support staff who take care of them.
"They're absolutely phenomenal! They do what, quite honestly, what I couldn't do. So, my hat is off to them. All of them,” said Kingery.